Amendments to laws concerning special education helps the foundation promote mainstreaming

During his stint at the St. Raphael Opportunity Center, Father O’Connell already had a great desire to promote mainstream education. Father O’Connell believed that segregated education only facilitated supervision and did not benefit the education or development of disabled children. Only mainstreamingallowed students with special needs to interact with normal children and achieve mutual understanding. However, this idea was limited under the laws and traditions at the time and was never successfully promoted.

In April 1997, the “Amendments to the Special Education Act” was completed, extending the school age for disabled children down to 3 years and planning a program for special education in normal classes. In 1998, rules concerning special education were further released and it was stated that disabled children should receive preschool education together with normal children. Taiwan’s special education began to move towards the ideal of mainstream education.


Fundraising for establishment of a foundation, operating expenses remain insufficient
Father O’Connell came to the Xuejia district of Tainan city in July 1996, approximately one year since his return to Taiwan, and began preparations for the foundation’s formation. At that time, creating a district-wide cultural and educational foundation required NT$2,000,000. Father O’Connell brought teachers to Shin Kong Mitsukoshi to hold a charity sale, diligently raised funds starting from dusk and continuing until the department store closed for the day. Finally, on February 25, 1997, the Bethlehem Foundation was established.

Although the foundation had been created, there continued to be a shortage of funds. Because of this, the foundation accepted the government’s request to establish an infant development center in order to receive government grants. However, as student enrolment increased, the cost of salaries for teachers and nurses rose greatly and problems with funding persisted. Money was frequently overspent and Father O’Connell often had to raise more. At the time, one-third of the foundation’s operating expenses came from donations while the remaining amount was supplied from government grants, as well as financial support and fundraising aid from the Catholic Church.




The 2nd anniversary of

Bethlehem Foundation in 1999

The 10th anniversary of

Bethlehem Foundation in 2007

Opening ceremony of the new center will be held for the

20th anniversary of Bethlehem Foundation in 2017