Taiwan’s school system is renowned for producing exceptionally high levels of attainment in testing for mathematics and science. General standards of schooling are comparable with other developed nations in the region such as Japan or South Korea. Levels of literacy in the country have been calculated at 98.2% of citizens aged 15 and older by the government, although historically it has been a percentage point or two lower depending on the authority measuring.
The Ministry of Education of the Republic of China (Taiwan) (MoE) is the government body responsible for implementing policy and the management of the public school system. It has been criticised (as has the culture of education more generally) for promoting a highly pressurised environment for students, and an emphasis on rote learning.
However, more recently the MoE has tried to implement systemic change to address these concerns, a policy that has become a widely debated topic in public-political discourse.
Compulsory education officially extends from elementary at 6 years old, up to the end of junior high at age 15. In practice, around 95% of all students continue in some form of education, be it academic or vocational.
In addition, President Ma announced in 2011 the implementation of compulsory schooling up to 18, to be phased in by 2014. The 12-year education plan is not without its critics domestically, and it remains a controversial political issue despite the MoE’s best efforts to promote it.
The education sector in Taiwan is provided for by both the public authorities and private organisations, at all levels from pre-school to university.
The distribution of private provision varies at each level of schooling, with the majority of compulsory schooling taking place in public institutions. From providing just 1.4% of elementary schools, there is a huge jump at the senior secondary stage to around 43% private, and reaching 63% of tertiary university and college education.
School grades in Taiwan are as follows:
- Pre-school/Kindergarten - 4 - 6 years old
- Elementary - 6 - 12
- Junior high - 12 - 15
- Senior high or vocational - 15 -18
- University / College - 18 - 25 (depending on degree length)
Expats wishing to move with their children can enroll them in one of the many international schools in Taiwan. With the greatest number, and the most prestigious, Taipei is the best place to start looking for suitable schools. Please note, international schooling is only available to holders of foreign passports.