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Sasala Taiban, associate professor at I-Shou University’s College of Communication and Design says, although more and more aboriginal students are attending college, the number of aboriginal students dropping out of college is also becoming. He thinks that one of the main reasons is family economic condition.

According to the Ministry of Education, 90% of the aboriginal college students go to private schools and the other 10% attend public schools. Sasala says that, even though there are more aboriginal students who agree that receiving higher education can increase social mobility, the government’s same amount of subsidies for aboriginal students in both public and private schools is considered to be an equality of outcome, but has also had negative effects on the students.

In short, aboriginal students studying in private schools have heavier economic burdens than those who go to public schools. They have to pay an extra amount of about NT$ 25,000 (approximately US$ 750) for tuition compared with the ones that attend public schools. This also threatens the education rights of aboriginal students who already have relatively less educational and economic resources.

According to statistics, the number of aboriginal students that dropped out of college broke the record in 2013 with 10%. Among them, 12% dropped out because of family financial difficulties, which was twice the amount of other students. This shows that the country’s investment in rural education is far from enough and the resources are not justly allocated.

In addition, due to places reserved for aboriginal students in certain departments, the aboriginal students tend to choose to study in these fields and makes higher education become a limitation for the social mobility of Taiwanese aborigines.

The government hopes to improve the rights to education with policies beneficial to aboriginal students. But they fail to help those in need due to implementing the wrong strategy. On the other hand, the aborigines under different economic conditions have enjoyed the same beneficial policies on education. This may not only cause conflict between the aborigines and the rest of the society, but also create gaps between aborigines from different social classes. These are issues the government should pay attention to when establishing related policies.

Translated by Vic Chiang
Edited by Olivia Yang