A Presbyterian church located at a remote aboriginal village in Taiwan builds new cyber classroom.
The internet center project, started by two church elders, will help local Atayal children from Smangus village receive real-time information and education. In the past, the children had to leave their families to receive a proper education.
"Having this village cyber-classroom in operation serves to strengthen relationships between parents and children because children no longer need leave the village for schooling," says Pastor Yabu Syat, pastor of Smangus church. Syat hopes that the new venture will reveal "a testimony of good faith to all remote aboriginal villages in Taiwan."
Smangus is located 1,500 meters (4,921 ft.) above sea-level, at the Jian-Shih Township of Hsin Chu County. Access to the mountainous community is difficult as the roads are narrow. Communication with the outside world is at times difficult. The village itself was cut off for several days on two occasions – during a 1993 typhoon and a 1999 earthquake. According to government sources, aboriginal children tend to be behind in their education as compared to their peers living in the cities and coastal regions. The new cyber-classroom is the first of its kind in the entire township.
Help for building the center came from many volunteers, including college students and technicians to set up internet service. Others acquired and transported the equipment to the internet classroom.
During the opening ceremony for the center, local elementary school students logged onto the internet and signed up for instant messaging to communicate with a former pastor studying in the U.S. city of Chicago, Illinois.
Aboriginals throughout the township gave their gratitude to the church for initiating the project. According to the Aboriginal Village Strengthening Association, the church has always played a big role in maintaining the fabric of aboriginal society.
"Churches are an important link. They have long been established in the villages, and are 'one with' village life. The faith they preach has taken root in Aboriginal society. By this faith, people are led forward," says Yang Yaw-Song, the association's executive secretary.
The facility is now equipped with 20 new computers. Villagers hope to receive the services of faraway teachers soon.