Elementary school morass

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There is an increasing sense of panic in our household this week as we come to terms with elementary school enrollment rules in Hsinchu.
Until earlier this week, we thought we had our daughter’s education under control. She’s had a good nanny who has helped make her completely fluent in Mandarin, we chose a small kindergarden in a great location with an emphasis on the kind of learning we value at her age, she goes to dance twice a week, and we plan on sending her to a math class on Saturdays. We want her to go to a local school and we had a few picked, both public and private, but what we completely glossed over was the age requirements for entering grade 1.
Our daughter, Catriona, was born on Sept. 25th but the rules state that a child must be six before Sept. 1st in order to gain admission. In order to attend ‘early’ a child must take an exam, an exam that reportedly only 10% pass. Of course the date to apply to take the exam has passed as well. One gets the impression that you start planning your child’s entrance to elementary school before they leave the womb.
Of course this is pretty critical. I cannot accept having her wait another year to attend elementary school and be the oldest child in the class.
So now we have to start getting favours from our network here, writing letters, and making phone calls in the hope that she can be allowed to write an exam. An exam that she will have prepare for daily. That’s allot of pressure for all involved and it seems insane to have to study for an exam at age 5. But that’s the system here.
Photo is from March 2007 of Catriona checking out Ming Fu elementary – one of our choices.
Update: We were told by the one private school in Hsinchu City that Catriona could attend ‘early’ without exam but not if she was going to stay for the full 6 years of elementary school. Also, she wouldn’t be able to transfer out of the private school to another local school. So they are able to bend the rules but if we plan on sending Catriona to elementary school in Taiwan longer than 3 years we are sol.


  • Damn! Education in Taiwan if you are not Taiwanese is a mess.
    My advice, consisting of the experience of one kid, would be to send her to a small ordinary local school. Ours did fine. At a larger school she’ll be a number and also, the teachers hit. At a small school you will have disproportionate influence as The Foreigner.
    Good luck. This is a tear-your-hair-out topic. I’m homeschooling my two teenagers at the moment.
    Michael

  • That’s what we are shooting for – a small local school. Unfortunately she missed the age requirement by a few weeks so we are working on finding a way to deal with that.
    We could send her to one of the international schools here for free but one of the main reasons we stay on here is to give our kids as much time as possible with the unique education that is provided here. You aren’t going to learn to read and write Mandarin, take supplemental classes, and study art in rural Nova Scotia.