Education in Taiwan

Education in Taiwan
(Republic of China)
Ministry of Education
Minister of Education Wu Se-hwa
National education budget (2003)
Budget NT$ 608.6 billion (US$ 20 billion)
General details
Primary languages Mandarin, some instruction in Holo (Taiwanese), Hakka, various aboriginal languages and English
System type Central
Literacy (2007)
Total 96%
Male 97%
Female 95%
Total 5,384,9261
Primary 2,153,7172
Secondary 1,676,970
Post secondary 1,270,1943
Secondary diploma
Post-secondary diploma

The educational system in Taiwan is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education of Republic of China (commonly known as "Taiwan"). The system in the ROC produces pupils with some of the highest test scores in the world, especially in mathematics and science.[1][2] It has been criticised for placing excessive pressure on students and eschewing creativity in favour of rote memorization. Recent educational reforms intended to address these criticisms are a topic of intense debate in Taiwan. Although current law mandates only nine years of schooling, 95% of students go on to high school, trade school or college. President Ma announced in January 2011 that the government would begin the phased implementation of a twelve-year compulsory education program by 2014.[3]

The literacy rate in 2002 was 96.1%.


Pingtung Academy in Pingtung County.

The Dutch East India Company, the Ming Chinese loyalists under Koxinga, Qing China, and the Japanese all implemented education systems on Taiwan.[4] Christianity was taught under Dutch rule.[5] Taiwan also houses many academies, such as Daodong Academy, Fongyi Academy, Jhen Wen Academy, Mingxin Academy and Pingtung Academy.

Public education

The public education system in Taiwan spans nursery schools through university. Public education has been compulsory from primary school through junior high school since 1968. In 2001 roughly 16% of the central budget was spent on education. In January 2011, President Ma announced plans to implement a full twelve-year compulsory education program by 2014.[3] In addition, financial support for preschool education would begin, starting with fee waivers.[3]

Access to high school and university is controlled by a series of national exams. Discipline in public schools of all levels is generally very tight with school uniforms and morning reveille being the norm. Students of all levels through high school are responsible for cleaning their own classrooms and areas around the school, cleanup time being a daily ritual. Corporal punishment is officially banned, but many reports suggest it is still practiced by many teachers, due in no small part to the fact that most parents support it.

The school year consists of two semesters. The fall semester begins in early September and runs till late January or early February. Winter vacation typically runs from two to three weeks around the Lunar New Year. Spring semester begins following the Lantern Festival in mid February and ends in early June. From middle school on, many schools hold "optional supplementary classes" during winter and summer vacation as well as after normal school hours. Despite the name, in many cases participation is compulsory. The language of instruction is Mandarin.

School grades

The school year is divided into two semesters. The first begins in the beginning of September and ends in February; the second begins in March and ends in August.

Level/Grade Typical age
Pre-school playgroup 3-4
Kindergarten 4-6
Elementary school
Primary 1 6–7
Primary 2 7–8
Primary 3 8–9
Primary 4 9–10
Primary 5 10–11
Primary 6 11–12
Junior high school
Form 1 12-13
Form 2 13-14
Form 3 14-15
Senior high school
Form 4 15–16
Form 5 16–17
Form 6 17–18
Post-secondary education
Tertiary education (College or University) Ages vary (usually four years,
referred to as Freshman,
Sophomore, Junior and
Senior years)
Graduate education
Adult education

Education system

29 Graduate school
Doctor of Philosophy

28 Graduate school
Doctor of Philosophy
27 Employment
Graduate school
Doctor of Philosophy
Graduate school
Doctor of Philosophy
26 Graduate school
master's degree
Graduate school
Doctor of Philosophy
25 University
medical school
Graduate school
master's degree
Graduate school
master's degree
24 University
dental school
Graduate school
master's degree
Open university 18
23 University
(some disciplines)
22 University
(most disciplines)
technical institute
university of technology
technical institute
university of technology
Institute of continuing education 16
21 15
20 2-year
junior college
junior college
Vocational school of continuing education 14
19 13
18 Senior high school Senior vocational school Vocational senior high school of
special education
Senior high school of
continuing education
17 11
16 10
15 Junior high school Junior high school of
special education
Night junior high school 9
14 8
13 7
12 Elementary school Elementary school of
special education
Night elementary school 6
11 5
10 4
9 3
8 2
7 1
6 Kindergarten Early childhood
special education

Age Normal education Special education Continuing education Grade/

Primary Education

Elementary Schools

Elementary schools span grades 1 through 6, classes are held from Monday through Friday, typically from 7:30 AM through 4PM (or noon on Wednesdays). Subjects include:

Like middle schools, students are typically assigned to the elementary school closest to their registered place of residence. This leads some parents to file their children's household registration with other relatives or friends for the purpose of sending their children to what are perceived as better schools.

Secondary education

Junior high school

Junior high school spans grades 7 through 9 and is the last half of compulsory education. Unlike the slower pace of elementary school, junior high students typically have a single goal in life: to score high on the national senior high school entrance exams at the end of 9th grade. Consequently, the pressure on students from teachers and parents is intense, because there will be only one test per year. Though instruction officially ends around 5PM, students often stay in school till as late as 8 or 9PM for "extra classes" (which typically consist of extra quizzes and review).

Subject matter covered includes:

At the end of their third year, students participate in the national senior high school entrance exams and are assigned to senior high schools based upon their scores. Students may also participate in a separate national vocational school entrance exam if they wish to attend vocational school. In both cases, public schools are usually the most popular while private schools have traditionally been viewed as a backup for those unable to score high enough for public schools.

Roughly 94.7% of junior high school students continue on to senior high or vocational school.

Senior high school

Senior high school spans grades 10 through 12, again the main goal of students is to score highly on the national university entrance exams at the end of their third year. The pace is just as, if not more intense than junior high school.

Discipline in educational institutions from high school and up (including vocational schools) are the responsibility of military officers stationed at the individual schools (as opposed to elementary and junior high school where teachers and school administrators were responsible for discipline). In addition to the normal subjects, students are also required to attend a military education class covering issues such as civil defense, military drills, national defense, and basic firearms. In the past, high (and vocational) school students were expected to take on civil defense duties in the event of national emergency. Boys and girls were trained to fire arms and hurl grenades.

In many high schools incoming students may select science or liberal arts tracks depending on where their interests lie. The different learning tracks are commonly referred to as groups. Group I consists of liberal arts students, Group II and Group III of science based students (the latter studies biology as an additional subject). Science based curriculum consists of more rigorous science and mathematics classes intended to prepare the student for a career in the sciences and engineering; the liberal arts track places a heavier emphasis on literature and social studies to prepare students for a future in those fields. Often, students in Group I are exempted to study science even if they wish to, and students in Group II are not required to take geography, civics and history.

Entrance to university is administered via two methods: Recommendations or Examination. For those that participate in recommendations, they have to take a national academic exam and selecting a list of majors that they are applying to. The first stage is a screening of exam results for eligibility, the second stage would be dependent on the conditions of individual departments selected. For those that did not choose to take the recommendations process, or failed their applications, they have the choice to participate in the national university entrance exams after graduation in hopes of university admission.

Vocational schools

Vocational schools are three-year institutions similar to normal senior high schools. Unlike normal senior high schools, they place a heavier emphasis on practical and vocational skills. Incoming students typically choose a single concentration, such as electrical engineering, civil engineering, computer science or business. Some specialized vocational schools also offer programs in seamanship and agriculture. Vocational school graduates may also participate in the national university entrance exams. It is not uncommon for students to select vocational school over high school and proceed to a four-year college afterwards.

12 years education

The currency national basic education in Taiwan (ROC) is 12 years education.the implementation of this compulsory education, replace the old 9 years education.[6]

the 12 years education policy, was original been proposed on 1983 years, but delay due to the financial factors.

Higher education

There are over 100 institutions of higher education in Taiwan. Roughly 2/3 of the over 100,000 students taking the national university entrance exams are accepted to a higher educational institution. Since the 1990s many trade schools and junior colleges have been "promoted" to university status, which can account for the high university entrance rates. Nonetheless, a high score is desired as an admission criterion to the socially or economically prestigious institutions.



Taiwan has many universities, both public and private. Tuition is less expensive in public universities than in private universities, like in most western countries. Many public universities receive financial support from the government for research purposes. In terms of public resources and expenses for higher education, both used to be incentives for students when they are choosing between public and private universities after their high school education.

However, some departments of public schools are no longer better than those of private schools, as there is an imbalance in the support they receive for the school development policy. Nowadays some private schools are strongly supported by the College Council, which consists of prosperous commercial groups or religious bodies (such as Fu Jen Catholic University, Tzu Chi University). Most private schools have been established around a specific academic field and have become known for specializing in that area. Presently, students will apply for the schools that have higher academic achievement in their chosen field.

Engineering is extremely popular and engineering degrees account for over a quarter of the bachelor's degrees awarded in Taiwan. It is also related to future employment opportunities because of the government policy focusing on high-tech manufacturing industries. See also: Engineering education in Taiwan

Some of the highly regarded public universities in Taiwan include (by QS World University Rankings):

The largest and best known private university in Taiwan is the Fu Jen Catholic University . Fu Jen is best known for programs Foreign Languages and Literatures, Law, Business Management (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business accredited), Theology, Fine Arts, Social Sciences and Communication. It is notable for having established the first graduate-level program in Conference Interpreting in Taiwan. The student body also consists of many international students.

In contrast with junior high and high school, where students are pressured by the highly selective entrance exams, college life in Taiwan is generally seen as being rather relaxed. Graduate degrees from the U.S. and Europe are also highly prized with many students applying to foreign graduate schools after completing university (though the number has declined somewhat in recent years). An average of 13000 university graduates per year choose to pursue graduate studies in the U.S.

Founded by Japanese government (1895-1945)

YearSchool nameOriginal name
1911National Chung Hsing UniversityAdvanced Academy of Agronomy and Forestry
1922National Taiwan Normal UniversityTaihoku College
1928National Taiwan UniversityTaihoku Imperial University
1931National Cheng Kung UniversityTainan Technical College

Teaching Excellence Universities Award

The Ministry of Education in Taiwan started the Teaching Excellence Universities Award in 2006. Since the beginning of this award, only six universities have earned this honor every year.

Medical school

Medical school in Taiwan begins as an undergraduate major and lasts seven years (six years for dentistry), with the final two years being hands on training at a teaching hospital. Graduates of medical school may elect to continue on to graduate school to pursue a doctoral degree.

Law school (College of Law)

Like medicine, law school is selected as an undergraduate major and lasts four years.

Teacher training

Most higher educational institutions offering programs in education. Such programs run four years, in addition to a half-year internship, with students receiving teaching credentials at the end of the program. They also have to take extra test for being a teacher in public school. While currently education programs are available in most institutes of tertiary education, prospective teachers typically go to a "university of education" if they want to teach primary school, and a "normal university" for secondary school. One exception is National Changhua University of Education, which, like normal universities, is renowned for its dedication to cultivating secondary school teachers.

Teachers' In-service Advancement Education Information & Resources

With the implementation of reformation of education policy in Taiwan, in order to integrate the resources of teachers' in-service advancement education and to encourage teachers to participate in the in-service advancement education activities positively, the Ministry of Education established 12 regional teacher's in-service advancement education centers in 2003. The National Kaohsiung Normal University (NKNU) was chosen as the general coordinator and was responsible for setting up, managing the Nationwide Teacher In-Service Education Information Web.

The Nationwide Teacher In-Service Education Information Web provides teachers with a communication platform for in-service teacher advancement education in Taiwan. That is to encourage teachers to have a continuous growth in teaching. The information of advancement activities and teachers’ participation records are shown by digital platform.

This network provides activities and individual’s learning records for K-12 teachers. This database-technology platform is in an electronic format to record teacher's training progress and learning time. It establishes a regulating mechanism to integrate educational and administrative resources from education institutions and local authorized educational authorities respectively. That is for fulfilling the ideals of educational reform in an effective way.

The purposes of Nationwide Teacher In-service Advancement Education Information Web are as follows:

Junior colleges

Junior colleges can be classified into 5-year junior colleges and 2-year junior colleges according to entry requirement. Since 2004, they offer associate degrees under Article 29 of the Junior College Law.[7] Graduates may continue on to a 2-year technical institute, transfer to a (4-year) university, or enter the workforce.

5-year junior colleges

Students enter five-year junior colleges after graduating junior high school and passing a national exam. The curriculum is similar to that of vocational schools with the exception that 5-year junior colleges run for two additional years.

2-year junior colleges

Two-year junior colleges offer advanced vocational training for graduates of vocational or senior high schools.

Technical institutes

Taiwan offers two types of technical institutes each targeted at a specific age group.

2-year technical institutes

Two-year technical institutes offer vocational training for graduates of junior colleges.

4-year technical institutes

4-year technical institutes typically accept senior high and vocational school graduates, and offer in depth job and vocational training.

Similarities with universities in Mainland China

Many universities in Taiwan were originally established in Mainland China before the retreat of the ROC government from Mainland to Taiwan after the Chinese Civil War. Some of the universities who were originally established in the Mainland were reestablished in Taiwan. To avoid ambiguity, the ROC government generally added the National word in front of those universities in Taiwan to differentiate them with the ones in Mainland.

YearUniversities in TaiwanYearUniversities in Mainland China
1951Soochow University1900Soochow University
1956National Tsing Hua University1911Tsinghua University
1958National Chiao Tung University1896Shanghai Jiao Tong University
1980National Sun Yat-sen University1924Sun Yat-sen University
1995National Chi Nan University1906Jinan University

Private education

Private educational institutions are pervasive in Taiwan ranging from private schools at all levels to supplementary cram schools or buxiban.

Cram schools

Main article: Buxiban

With the intense pressure placed on students to achieve by parents, many students enroll in private after-school classes intended to supplement their regular education. These cram schools are an extremely large (and profitable) business in Taiwan and have been criticized by some as being the result of cultural overemphasis on academic achievement. Popular subjects in cram schools include English, mathematics, and the natural sciences. Test prep classes are also popular amongst junior and senior high school students.

Classes are generally very orderly and controlled, with class sizes as high as 200 or so students in some well-known institutions. The quality of cram schools varies considerably. Some of the larger schools and chains write their own programs and produce their own textbooks.

Kindergartens and preschool

While many public kindergartens and preschools exist in Taiwan, private kindergartens and preschools are also quite popular. Many private preschools offer accelerated courses in various subjects to compete with public preschools and capitalize on public demand for academic achievement. Curriculum at such preschools often encompasses subject material such as science, art, physical education and even mathematics classes. The majority of these schools are part of large school chains, which operate under franchise arrangements. In return for annual fees, the chain enterprises may supply advertising, curriculum, books, materials, training, and even staff for each individual school.

There has been a huge growth in the number of privately owned and operated English immersion preschools in Taiwan since 1999. These English immersion preschools generally employ native English speaking teachers to teach the whole preschool curriculum in an ‘English only’ environment. The legality of these types of schools has been called into question on many occasions, yet they continue to prosper. Some members of Taiwanese society have raised concerns as to whether local children should be placed in English immersion environments at such a young age, and have raised fears that the students abilities in their mother language may suffer as a result. The debate continues, but at the present time, the market for English Immersion Preschools continues to grow.

In October 2016, Education Minister Pan Wen-chung said that the Executive Yuan will allocated a budget of NT$6.2 billion to establish 1,000 kindergartens over the next four years so that it can raise the percentage of children enrollment by 30-40% by 2020.[8]

3+3 High school system

Following the new policy of the test to enter senior high school (The CAP test), it is now wildly believed by the parents that making their kids worry nothing about senior high school, but college entrance test will be more benefiting. Therefore, lots of Senior High School in Taiwan such as Private Nan Shan Senior High School started their own Junior departure. Since most of the public school does not offer 6 years secondary education, the private schools start to gain more and more application in enter the school.


Nursing education

Main article: Nursing in Taiwan

Chinese as a second language

Taiwan has long been and, with the growing popularity of learning Chinese, a destination for learning the language.

See: List of Chinese language schools in Taiwan

English cram schools

There is a large industry (cram schools) of teaching English that recruits teachers from English speaking countries. Many students go to cram schools in the evenings and on weekends, in an effort to increase their test scores.


In 2015, there were 40,000 students from Mainland China studying in Taiwan, in which 34,114 of them were short-term exchange students.[10]

See also


  1. "TIMSS Math 2003" (PDF).
  2. "TIMSS Science 2003" (PDF).
  3. 1 2 3 "Talk of the day -- Taiwan's education to enter new era". Focus Taiwan News Channel. 2011-01-02. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  4. United States. Office of Education (1908). Bulletin. U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Office of Education. pp. 4–64.
  5. Ferdinand Verbiest Foundation (January 2001). Missionary Approaches and Linguistics in Mainland China and Taiwan. Leuven University Press. pp. 233–. ISBN 978-90-5867-161-5.
  6. "12 years education website". 12 years education website.
  7. "Junior College Law" (in Chinese). 10 July 2013. Retrieved 17 February 2014.
  8. "Cabinet approves Taipower break up - Taipei Times".
  9. "notepad the association of Chinese school health nursing". notepad the association of Chinese school health nursing.
  10. "'NT$3.4 bil. loss' if mainland bars students".
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