Since more and more college students devote themselves to teaching for children living in the rural areas, these kids are no longer alone during after-school hours and summer/winter vacation. College volunteering students take fully use of their time off class and offer different varieties of educational assistances to the kids in need; little by little, making our society a better place.
Spaling Project: Little Help, Huge Difference!
There are still a lot to be done in our rural education in Taiwan such as the need for regular updates on teaching materials and equipment as well as the need for the training-for-trainers (TOT) courses for teachers. . Few people concern about this topic, but a group of college students care about it and try to do something to deal with it. Spaling Project（小樹苗灌溉計畫）is an educational project aiming for children who live in rural areas. This original project was organized by two students who major in Journalism（新聞系）. The main purpose of this project is to share what they have learnt in Shih Hsin University to the students they teach, and this project is planned to hold once every semester. The school they’re going to visit is introduced by Common Wealth Magazine（天下雜誌）. With the help of Common Wealth they choose the school which they think they can have a bigger effect on.
After months of preparation, a total of eleven junior volunteers from the Journalism Department participated in this project and went to Wan Fu elementary school（萬富國小） in Yilan（宜蘭） on October 17th. There are no more than fifty students in the school. The actual number of students who participant in this activities is twenty-three. The tutors introduced the field of Journalism, including broadcasting, photographing, interviewing, and Media Literacy（媒體識讀）to the children. “This is the first time I realize what I can do with my major,” Yueh-hua Tsao（曹悅華）, a member of the team, said. Another reason why they choose to teach Media Literacy is that they believe the idea is important nowadays but most schools have not been promoting this course. Media Literacy teaches us the methods used by the media and how it gradually builds up ideology among audiences and the public. Therefore, they decide to teach students more about this important course in the future.
“The biggest problem is that we dont have any funds,” Yu-ming Tu（杜育銘）, the leader of the team, said. Without any social welfare organizations' assistance and sponsor, they face huge difficulties in financial support. In order to raise funds, they sold self-made lunch boxes and worked hard to earn money, all of the ingredients are prepared by themselves. To earn more funds, the team leader decided that they should attend more competitions and try their best to win awards. The team hopes that this project can be consistent and they can film a documentary based on these meaningful educational activities.
Rural Education: Online Tutoring
The Corps of Rural Areas Education Service at Fu Jen Catholic University（輔仁大學台灣偏鄉教育關懷中心）aims its goal at offering online tutoring for students of rural area, including primary, junior and senior high school students, to study subjects in their after-school hours. Thanks to the technology, students can not only attend online classes weekly through E-learning Platform, but also sign up for tutorial courses if they need additional help with their studying. Although the Internet is their “Classroom”, both tutors and tutees are divided into several computer classrooms to start the classes. “In this way, project assistants can monitor the whole process easily and give assistance to tutors whenever they need.” said Ya-fang Wang（王雅芳）, one of the senior assistants from The Corps of Rural Areas Education Service.
As for tutors, they are college student volunteers from Fu Jen University who are willing to dedicate themselves to rural education. “Tutors should have the awareness that even though they’re ambitious of teaching, what really matters are to know the needs of these children and to provide appropriate and timely help when necessary.” Wang explained.
Online tutoring project is not just about teaching but interacting with one another. Current tutor Tzu-chen Huang（黃子珍）shares her experience, “My student is a sweet and smart fourth grader who comes from a tribe in southern Taiwan. Sometimes, we exchange our stories and our thoughts during classes. What’s more, my student even teaches me how to speak the local dialect of her tribe, which means a lot to me because it seems that we are getting closer and closer.” Wang also added that she has taught a kid who was also a fourth grader several years ago. Since then, they have become friends and built a solid relationship. “Now, he is about to become a college freshman. How incredible it is to participate in a child's life in her course of growth. I am truly affected. ”
Despite the fact that online tutoring has overcome geographical barriers between rural and urban divide, it’s still necessary for tutors and children to meet face to face. Through student-teacher gathering, both of them can learn more about each other and establish intimate relationship. “We believe that online tutoring supported with the gathering will enhance the efficiency of rural education.” Wang shared.
Rural Education: A Mutual Growth
Contribution is the first word which numerous people link to the rural education. Instead of a one-way education, it is a beneficial interaction of education between teachers and students.
Rey-nold Shieh（謝雷諾）, who has spent decades devoting to public service activities, encourages the public to take part in the rural education. “While we bring knowledge to students, students also educate us. Compared with the poor rural environment, urban volunteers will cherish the resources they have,” Shieh said. As most parents work in big cities, many students brought up by grandparents are often lacking love and concern. The happiness which volunteers bring to them even in a few days is unforgettable for the rural students. “To my surprise, the children still remembered us when we went back to the school again. It is a pity that many talented rural students don’t have opportunities and resources to receive better education,” Shieh mentioned. As an experienced volunteer, Gi-kuan Qiu（邱繼寬）shares his views that “Rural students are very innocent. We are glad to see that many of them would like to talk to us during spare time. The happiness they get from our public service activities also gives me great pleasure. The experiences are impressive and precious to me.” The relationship still lasts for a long time even after the end of the program. Qiu helped a rural student from Changhua solve the trouble in her assignment through Internet, and he also encouraged her to study hard in pursuit of a wonderful future. To the present situation of Taiwan’s rural education, the Ministry of Education in Taiwan suggested that increasing the quantity of teachers in rural areas is necessary to improve the development of rural education. Rey-nold Shieh also indicates that the lack of teachers is one of the significant factors. Teachers play a direct role in rural education.
The volunteers or teachers are not just givers in rural education, but they can also learn a lot from teaching; it is simply a win-win for both.