Taiwan’s education system is the responsibility of Taiwan’s Ministry of Education. Under the current system, students in Taiwan are offered K-12 public education and undergraduate and graduate post-secondary degrees. This system includes 6 years of elementary school, 3 years of junior high school, 3 years of senior high school, 4 to 7 years of college or university, 1 to 4 years of master’s study, and 2 to 7 years for a doctoral degree.
Although current law mandates 9 years of schooling, 95% of students go on to high school, vocational high school, or college. However, the government has been phasing in a 12-year compulsory education program projected to be fully implemented by 2014.
Public and Private Education
The public school year has 2 semesters, with fall semester beginning in early September and ending in late January or early February depending on the Lunar New Year holiday. Winter vacation is approximately 2 to 3 weeks around the Chinese New Year. Spring semester begins after the Chinese New Year holiday and goes until early to mid-June. Summer break is most of June, July, and August. From secondary education on, many schools have selective supplementary classes during winter and summer vacation as well as after normal school hours to support students with the rigorous testing requirements.
In addition, there are more than 90 private secondary schools some of which are boarding schools in Taiwan. Most often the private school year mirrors public schools. Private schools generally are more expensive than public schools, yet these schools rarely offer students more education resources than public schools.
There are approximately 20 foreign-system schools in Taiwan, such as the American, European and Japanese schools, among others. For expats seeking an education pathway or curriculum similar to that in their home country for their children, international schools are the best choice, but at an exorbitant rate.
After secondary education, over half of the Taiwanese students taking the national university entrance exam are accepted into a tertiary program at one of over 100 institutions of higher education in Taiwan.
Pre-Schools and Kindergartens
Many Taiwanese parents introduce their children to school education at a very young age and due to the increase in double-income families and long working hours, centers for pre-school education also provide childcare services. Some of the kindergartens offer bilingual English/Mandarin learning environment for parents who wish their young toddlers to grow up with a second language skill.
Special education institutions have been established for students with special needs who are unable to attend mainstream schooling. These schools offer education from kindergarten through senior high school or vocational school, with programs aimed at helping children with special needs become more independent, self-sufficient, and contributing members of society.
For more information about education in Taiwan, please see here.