A dream opportunity for students to study in Taiwan has turned into a living nightmare.
Instead of attending to studies most of the time, they are forced to work long hours, and in very difficult conditions. They are made to work in a cold chicken factory, which is under 10 degrees Celsius most of the time.
“It is really depressing for them, and many, if not all of them, regret taking this opportunity and want to come back home,” said a student who asked not to be named.
Over 40 Emaswati left the country in September in the hope that they would realise their ambition of studying abroad. Now they are forced to work long hours in a chicken factory and other shady places.
These students are enrolled at a private tertiary institution called MingDao University in Taiwan where they are pursuing a course in Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) Degree in Pitou Township where the university is located.
According to several sources who are based in Taiwan, and familiar with the situation, these students are forced to work in the chicken factory where they are made to peel chickens under freezing temperatures to pay for their tuition fees and accommodation at the university.
They work for 40 hours in a week, which is ten hours per day. The conditions are so unfavourable that two of the students are reportedly back in the country after failing to keep up with the situation.
Information gathered is that the students have only two days of class per week which is one full day and a half day and they work for five days.
“The institution is making a profit out of the students because they get only two per cent of their earnings and the rest is forfeited for tuition fees and accommodation but the forfeited sum is way more than the fees of the two.
“This is a case of slavery and the students all want to come back home due to the unfavorable conditions they are exposed to in Taiwan,” revealed a source.
One Liswati who is also a student in Taiwan, confirmed to this newspaper the situation emaSwati are undergoing, revealing that one male student was recently taken ill as a result of depression.
The student, who is on government scholarship, stated that she got wind of this situation from one of the 40 in MingDao who opened up to a group of other students in Taipei and was reduced to tears.
“He said he couldn’t cope with the conditions, and wants to go back home, or a change of universities,” she said.
“Right now it is winter, so it really is depressing for them,” said the student referring to the cold weather conditions these students have to work under.
She told this newspaper that as far as she is aware, the students in MingDao are desperate to leave that place.
She likened this situation to slavery, as the students cannot just leave, as the university will punish those remaining behind.
“If you run away, the ones left behind will be made to suffer,” said the source.
To make matters worse, the students are also made to hustle for food as the institution doesn’t cover for that but they are only given one meal per day during work.
“It really is hard for them. if a male student was close to tears talking of their situation, you can only imagine how hard it is for a female,” said our source.
Students have to pack large number of chickens a day, because the factory supplies frozen chickens.
The local students were lured through an advert that was published in the print media.
The “Work/Study Programme” in MingDao University ‘offered’ a limited number of candidates scholarship.
The advert was advertised to be exclusively designed to give each candidate hands-on practical and work experience in the work environment while completing a four-year Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) course at the very same time. It stated that each candidate would be earning a monthly salary which would cover their tuition fees, accommodation, insurance, miscellaneous fees and will still have roughly E3 000 remaining per month.
This situation emaSwati find themselves in is similar to a case reported recently at the University of Kang Ning in Taiwan that was eventually reprimanded by the ministry of education in that country for allowing over 40 of its Sri Lankan students to work in slaughterhouses in Taipei and Tainan, as reported by the China Times.
The students were allegedly promised huge sums of money for working in the slaughterhouses but they only got about 25 per cent of the money as monthly earnings.
When sought for comment via Whatsapp as his phone was not available on the network, Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in the Kingdom of Eswatini second secretary David Taiwei Lin said he couldn’t comment on the matter as he was currently out of the country.