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June 1, 2010

Homeschooling in Taiwan in 2010

An update from one of the Taiwanese homeschooling associations, Taiwan Homeschool Advocates, on the homeschooling situation in Taiwan as of March 2010, including several changes to the law and local regulations beginning this year:

On January 27, 2010, Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou signed an amendment to the National Education Law requiring the Ministry of Education to set national guidelines for regulating “non-school” type education (as homeschooling is known legally in Taiwan) in conjunction with the local governments. The guidelines are expected to come in force for the 2010 academic year which starts on August 1, 2010.

The proposed guideline made available at Public Hearing at the end of March 2010 includes the following improvement over the current local homeschool regulations:

  1. The application will be submitted directly to the local government instead of district school in order to speed up the application process and eliminate district school’s interference with parents' application process.
  2. Parents can apply to homeschool their children for up to 9 years. They no longer need to repeat the same application annually.
  3. Parents can choose not to participate in the school examinations.

In January 2010, Taipei City Mayor also announced a 5-year trial program allowing 15-17 year-old homeschoolers to register with a public or private high schools in Taipei, upon satisfying school admission requirements, and receive high school diplomas upon satisfying the graduation requirements.

Since 2008, people in Taiwan who have applied for homeschooling during their elementary and junior high school study may take the High School Equivalency Diploma Test when they are 18 years of age. Others can take the same test when they are 20. The High School Equivalency Diploma is the prerequisite to sit for the national university entrance examination.

The Ministry of Education is also amending the Experimental High School Establishment Regulations to recognize high school homeschoolers. The amendment will give high school homeschoolers the same access to the University Entrance Examination as students attending regular public high schools.

Background information:
Although homeschooling has been legal since 1999, local educational authorities have been reluctant to pass the necessary administrative procedures until recently. As of March 2010, 23 out of 25 local educational authorities in Taiwan have established administrative procedures for homeschool application. Parents living in Chaiyi City and Lianjian County (Matsu islands) still can not apply to homeschool their children legally as these two jurisdictions still have not set administrative procedures.

In the remaining 23 counties and cities where local homeschooling regulations are in place, the regulations vary greatly. In some counties, the local government creates unreasonable if not impossible barriers to apply for homeschooling.

For example, in Taichung County, parents must have monthly household income in excess of NT$30,000 (or USD1,000) and NT$300,000 (or USD10,000) deposited in a separate bank account before they can apply for homeschooling. Taichung County also refuses to accept homeschool applications beyond 6th grade. In Taoyuan County, homeschoolers are required to take at least 7 lessons in a district school per week. In Taichung City, parents are told to sign an affidavit to promise their children will not take any lessons outside their home during the school hours. In Kaohsiung City, parents must submit a 50-page proposal every year in order to homeschool their children.

As the result of both regulatory and non-regulatory barriers created by the local government, 883 students (out of 1.23 million students who are 6-14 years old) applied for homeschooling during the 2009 academic year. One third of these are from Taipei City (290 out of 239,000 6-14 year-olds), and a total of two-thirds are from just four jurisdictions - Taipei City, Taipei County, Taoyuan County and Taichung County (these are some of the most heavily populated metropolitan areas of Taiwan).

International homeschooling in Taiwan
The Compulsory School Attendance Regulation only applies to Taiwanese nationals between 6 to 15 years old. Foreign nationals may homeschool without restriction in Taiwan. There are growing number homeschooling kids whose parents are Taiwanese national and foreign national. Their parents are from the USA, the UK, Denmark, Poland, and Russia. For support information, please visit Google Group