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September 27, 2017

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ECCT expected to raise Taipei European School land issue with Ma

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The European Chamber of Commerce Taipei (ECCT) is expected to bring up the problem of insufficient land being faced by Taipei European School (TES) with President Ma Ying-jeou.

Officials with the ECCT will reportedly broach the subject with Ma at the Europe Day Dinner on May 16. More than 600 ECCT members are scheduled to attend the event.

About 750 elementary school students and 500 middle and high school students are currently enrolled in the school, the Yangmingshan campus of which occupies 14,000 square meters. The school, however, has no room for gym facilities, a soccer field or expansion of its science labs. Students are forced to go to the nearby Chinese Culture University for swimming lessons.

The issue has been a source of great concern for ECCT members and European diplomats.

According to the ECCT, there are schools in Taipei with insufficient enrollment numbers, rendering valuable school grounds wasted. The body said there are even some schools with fewer than 100 enrolled students.

The ECCT hopes the government will assist it in finding unused school space for TES students. By doing so, Taiwan may enhance its international education standards, which will attract more overseas businesses to invest here. Furthermore, with an improved education environment, schooling would not be as much a concern for European parents living here, the ECCT said.

One international school in Bangkok occupies some 480,000 square meters, while the two TES school sites combined occupy less than 40,000 square meters, according to "Daniel," the president of a European carmaker who has moved to Taiwan.

Daniel said that a less-than-ideal school environment puts Taiwan at a disadvantage, as foreign investors with children are less likely to settle here. He added that academic exchanges between international and local schools could also enhance Taiwan students' international exposure.

Feng Ching-huan (馮清皇), the deputy commissioner of Taipei's Department of Education, said that school land may only be utilized by public schools and not by private ones, such as TES.

Feng also said that if the ECCT can provide figures about its insufficient school lands to the government, the department will formally set up a case to explore the issue. He stressed that the city will try its best to resolve the issue and find appropriate land for the school.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that TES has not communicated with it regarding expansion. The ministry added that the growing number of students enrolled at TES is a sign of the increased diplomatic ties between Taiwan and Europe.

Previously the school had lobbied the Taipei City Government to allow it to lease 2 acres to expand its Yangmingshan campus. The plan was unable to be carried out, however, due to vocal opposition from local cultural organizations.

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