TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A group of foreign teachers has launched a petition calling on the head of the Ministry of Health and Welfare and Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), to allow foreign teachers back into Taiwan.
On Aug. 21, the Foreign Teachers Coalition (FTC) posted a petition on change.org that included a letter calling on Chen and other leaders from the health ministry to allow foreign teachers to enter the country amid a travel ban that was imposed in March 2020. The authors of the petition argue that allowing them entry will help Taiwan realize its ambition to become a bilingual country by 2030 and provide "diversity of perspective" that would promote innovation in the country.
According to Zachary Ising, a Ph.D. candidate at West Chester University, the FTC was founded this summer in response to the border restrictions implemented by the CECC. The organization is headed by Oliver Ward, a British teacher from London.
Ising told Taiwan News that current border restrictions preclude many English teachers from entering Taiwan, with many teachers in the group waiting to travel to the country since May of this year. He said that the majority of the foreign teachers in the group are TEFL-certified, fully vaccinated, and licensed teachers in their home countries.
He stated that group members simply want to fulfill their contracts, contribute to Taiwan’s competitive education system, and enter the country lawfully. "We all have our work permits and are waiting patiently for permission to enter and for visas to resume processing at TECO locations," Ising said.
When asked what specific difficulties the teachers have encountered, Ising said that Taiwan's representative offices are closed to visa processing. He said that although the teachers have valid work permits and all necessary documentation, they cannot submit visa applications.
Ising said FTC members were surprised when the CECC announced it had accepted a plan to allow 13,000 foreign college students and some foreign professors to enter Taiwan via special entry permits this week. The plan does not include foreign teachers for public or private schools for grades K-12.
The open letter has been co-signed by 58 private schools in Taiwan, and the petition has received over 200 signatures thus far.
Those wishing to view or sign the petition can do so on at change.org.