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February 20, 2014

To homeschool or not to homeschool in Taiwan

By: Tim Chen

According to Taiwan’s National Immigration Agency, as of April 30, 2014, there were 6,588 Alien Resident Certificate (ARC) holders under 15 years old in Taiwan. Furthermore, during the 2013 academic year there were 209,784 primary and junior high school students with at least one foreign national parent—approximately 10% of all students.

Traditionally, children of foreign nationals or those with dual citizenship would attend one of the elite international schools in Taipei, Taichung, or Kaohsiung. Recently, the trend has been moving towards sending children to a public or private school following the national curriculum, or towards homeschooling using whichever curriculum parents prefer.

Our dear friend Katrina Brown wrote an excellent article on the background of homeschooling in Taiwan for the May 2013 issue of Centered on Taipei. I will focus this article on what foreign-national parents need to consider when applying to homeschool in Taiwan.

Who needs to apply to homeschool ?
According to article 2 of the Primary and Junior High School Act:

Citizens between 6 and 15 years of age (hereafter referred to as “school-age citizens”) shall receive primary and junior high school education. Citizens older than school age who have not received primary and junior high school education shall receive supplementary education.

Compulsory education and enrollment for school-age citizens shall be prescribed by law.

You may think compulsory education does not affect your children as they were born abroad, do not have Taiwanese passports, and are not entered into the household registry in Taiwan. However, the legal definition of Guomin (“citizens” or “nationals”) may surprise you.

According to Article 2 of the Nationality Act:

A person shall have the nationality of the ROC under any of the conditions provided by the following Subparagraphs:

1. His/her father or mother was a national of the ROC when he/she was born.

2. He/she was born after the death of his/her father or mother, and his/her father or mother was a national of the ROC at the time of death.

3. He/she was born in the territory of the ROC, and his/her parents can’t be ascertained or both were stateless persons.

4. He/she has undergone the naturalization process.

Preceding Subparagraph 1 and Subparagraph 2 shall also apply to the persons who were minors at the time of the amendment and promulgation of this Act.

According to article 3 of the Immigration Act:

The terms used in the present Act are defined as follows:

1. Nationals: Nationals who reside in the Taiwan Area, have their permanent residence registered at a household registry and have the nationality of the Republic of China (hereafter to be called the State), or nationals without registered permanent residence in the Taiwan Area.

Theoretically, if you or your spouse was of Taiwanese nationality when your children were born, your children must comply with the Compulsory Education and Enrollment Law regardless of what passports they are holding or whether they are entered in the household registry in Taiwan.

Realistically, local education authorities only enforce the Compulsory Education and Enrollment Law on those who have their permanent residence registered at a household registry. So if your children have not been entered in a household registry (i.e., they hold an ARC), they will not be missed terribly if they don’t enroll in school in Taiwan.

Why apply to homeschool in Taiwan?

You might still consider applying to homeschool even if your children are not legally required to enroll in schools in Taiwan. Homeschooling has been legal in Taiwan for grades 1–9 since 1999 and has been recognized for grades 10–12 since 2011. Anyone, including ARC holders, can apply to homeschool in Taiwan. I knew a Malaysian missionary family that applied to homeschool their children in Taipei.

Homeschool applications are subject to approval by the homeschool review board in each city or county. Half of each board’s members are homeschool parents and homeschool support group representatives. My wife, Dorota, from Poland, has been sitting on the Taipei board since 2013.

You may follow any curriculum, including one from your home country, when designing your homeschooling program. However, you must submit your proposal in Chinese. In the past, there have been families who wrote their homeschooling proposals in English and then had to have them professionally translated before submitting both the English and the Chinese versions to the board.

When your children complete 6th and 9th grades as homeschoolers, the school that manages their student statuses will issue Primary School Graduation Certificates and Junior High School Graduation Certificates respectively, in both English and Chinese. Your children will also have full transcripts in both English and Chinese issued by the school (with the grades provided by you) to be used to apply for further study in Taiwan or abroad.

Without such certificates, it is very difficult to study further in Taiwan, since schools here only recognize transcripts from accredited schools, not parents’ homeschool transcripts. Applying to homeschool will give your children the option to attend senior high schools and colleges in Taiwan.

If your children hold Junior High School Graduation Certificates or you can prove that they have completed 9th grade with an accredited school abroad, you can apply to homeschool your children in grades 10–12. When your homeschooling application has been approved by the homeschool review board, you can choose to have the local education authority manage your children’s student status.

The authority will issue your children student ID cards, which will allow them to enjoy the same benefits as other senior high school students. If your children are entered in a household registry, they can apply for subsidies up to TWD33,500 (USD $1,100) per semester, subject to a test.

Upon satisfactory completion of a three-year homeschooling education at the senior high school level, the local education authority will issue a Proof of Completion, which will allow your children to continue their study in colleges in Taiwan. If your children need to study abroad, the authority will authorize a municipal senior high school to issue a Senior High School Graduation Certificate in both English and Chinese as well as a full transcript of the grades you provided.

If you have any further questions about homeschool application in Taiwan, you may ask at the Facebook group Learn@Home in Taiwan or contact the local education authority of your household registry or ARC address.

 Other Resources

Learn more by visiting HSLDA’s Tawain page.