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Miaoli County to launch free after-school program

MIAOLI, Taiwan -- The Miaoli county government has decided to earmark a budget of NT$70 million (US$2.09 million) to allow elementary school students in the northern county to attend free after-school classes from next February, county officials said yesterday.

The educational program has been designed for first-to-fourth graders so that parents can leave their children at school until they finish work and are able to collect them and take them home, the officials

On average, wage earners in Taiwan get off work at 5 p.m., first- and second graders finish school at noon, while third-and fourth-graders usually finish at noon on Wednesdays and Fridays and at 4 p.m. during the rest of the week.

Rather than being left to wander the streets until their parents get home, the students will be given the opportunity to sharpen their reading and writing skills and will also be able to play sports under the supervision of teachers, the officials said.

Cheng Lai-chang, director of the Ministry of Education’s (MOE’s) Department of Elementary Education, said the ministry is pleased that the local government has decided to set up the program to benefit all of the county’s first-to-fourth graders and their parents as well.

Since 2003, Cheng said, the MOE has offered free after-school education program for schoolchildren of the socially disadvantaged, including low income, aboriginal and physically and mentally challenged parents, and earmarks NT$200 million every year to finance it.

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