Expats may find the lack of English-speaking schools in Taipei surprising. Although they do exist, most of these are either highly religious or one of several expensive international schools.
On the other hand, those open to raising Mandarin-speaking children have many excellent options to choose from, as Taiwanese schools meet high global standards. However, Western children should be prepared for a more pressured school experience than they may be used to.
Parents should also consider commute times when choosing a school. Traffic is highly congested and travelling can take a long time. On the plus side, public transport in Taipei is excellent and makes it easier for children to make their own way to school.
Public schools in Taipei
Education in Taiwan falls under the Ministry of Education, and the system regularly produces students with some of the best mathematics and science scores in the world.
On the downside, Taiwanese schools are often criticised for placing too much emphasis on rote learning and not enough on creativity and independent thought. Students have long days, often attending private “cram schools” between 4pm and 9pm to improve their English before returning home to do their homework.
When it comes to public schooling, Taiwan is a good choice for expats wanting to move to a country where their children can learn in a Chinese-speaking environment while receiving a high standard of education.
Both local and international schools in Taipei begin the school year in August or September. The year consists of two semesters; the first semester ends with a break for Chinese New Year and the second ends with a break for summer holidays.
International schools in Taipei
International schools are usually the preferred option for foreigners in Taiwan, although there are surprisingly few international schooling options to choose from. As such, space is often limited and waiting lists can be extensive. Expats should therefore apply well in advance to ensure a place for their child at their preferred school.
International schools in Taiwan are prohibited by law from accepting Taiwanese students who do not hold a second passport. As a result, international schools are mostly attended by expat children. These schools are usually expensive and those moving to Taiwan as part of a corporate relocation should factor school fees into any salary negotiations.