New regulations mean foreigners are excluded from public Kindergarten in Taiwan


#1

I went to two public schools in New Taipei today with my wife and our young son. Both schools did not let him enter the enrollment process, and told us to come back next week. However all the school places will already be gone then. The reason given was a new regulation that says that foreigners can only enroll in public schools if there are places left over after all Taiwan locals have applied. As there are limited school places this makes it effectively impossible for non Taiwanese to access public schools in Taiwan. This is not fair for many reasons. For example: foreign nationals resident in Taiwan pay the same taxes as locals and on that basis should have the same access to the services that these taxes pay for.

Has anyone else come up against this problem. Like I said, they told me it is a new regulation, just out this year.


#2

[quote=“BillCollins”]I went to two public schools in New Taipei today with my wife and our young son. Both schools did not let him enter the enrollment process, and told us to come back next week. However all the school places will already be gone then. The reason given was a new regulation that says that foreigners can only enroll in public schools if there are places left over after all Taiwan locals have applied. As there are limited school places this makes it effectively impossible for non Taiwanese to access public schools in Taiwan. This is not fair for many reasons. For example: foreign nationals resident in Taiwan pay the same taxes as locals and on that basis should have the same access to the services that these taxes pay for.

Has anyone else come up against this problem. Like I said, they told me it is a new regulation, just out this year.[/quote]

The enrolment of foreign students in elementary, junior and senior high schools is governed by the regulations on International Students Undertaking Studies in Taiwan. The act has last been amended in 2014. Article 5 of the act states that the number of international students that are admitted is limited to an additional ten percent of the number of local students approved on a case by case basis. Article 20 of the act states that international students who have acquired legitimate resident status in Taiwan and are applying to study at an elementary school, junior high school and senior high school may directly apply to a school near his or her residency. Article 20 further states that an international student being denied enrollment due to the selected school’s filled recruitment quota may apply for assistance from the government.

  1. The quota mentioned in the act implies that international placements are additional to local placements.
  2. As long as the 10% quota is not exhausted, there should be no reason for the school to deny admission
  3. The act does not state that foreign students should take the left-over spots from Taiwanese students
  4. The act states that foreign students should apply near their residency

My suggestions:

a. Inquire the school’s admissions quota for international students
b. Inquire the current total foreign student population
c. Apply for admission
d. In case of non-admission, get the decision in writing
e. Complain to the education department of your county/municipality

Furthermore, separate admission regimes are common. In real life - at least when colleges and universities are concerned - this actually works to the advantage of foreign students over Taiwanese students.


#3

[quote=“hsinhai78”]
My suggestions:

a. Inquire the school’s admissions quota for international students
b. Inquire the current total foreign student population
c. Apply for admission
d. In case of non-admission, get the decision in writing
e. Complain to the education department of your county/municipality

Furthermore, separate admission regimes are common. In real life - at least when colleges and universities are concerned - this actually works to the advantage of foreign students over Taiwanese students.[/quote]

Thanks for the advice. They said these new enrollment rules apply this year for the first time. Phoned both school weeks ago and they said to come and enroll on the 29th. But when we showed up as instructed we were sent packing with statements along the lines of ‘you foreigners cant enroll because you have to wait until children from our own country have taken their places first’ in front of an audience too both times. I have no faith in a school/system that would do that on first contact. Thanks for the advice. Its good advice but I wont be following it. Don’t want to have anything more to do with Taiwan public schools after that. Being told to go home foreigner in front of a group of parents and their children is pretty much game set and match.


#4

Another step backwards for Taiwan. It’s just not a first world nation. It’s bigotted and anti foreigner.


#5

[quote=“BillCollins”][quote=“hsinhai78”]
My suggestions:

a. Inquire the school’s admissions quota for international students
b. Inquire the current total foreign student population
c. Apply for admission
d. In case of non-admission, get the decision in writing
e. Complain to the education department of your county/municipality

Furthermore, separate admission regimes are common. In real life - at least when colleges and universities are concerned - this actually works to the advantage of foreign students over Taiwanese students.[/quote]

Thanks for the advice. They said these new enrollment rules apply this year for the first time. Phoned both school weeks ago and they said to come and enroll on the 29th. But when we showed up as instructed we were sent packing with statements along the lines of ‘you foreigners cant enroll because you have to wait until children from our own country have taken their places first’ in front of an audience too both times. I have no faith in a school/system that would do that on first contact. Thanks for the advice. Its good advice but I wont be following it. Don’t want to have anything more to do with Taiwan public schools after that. Being told to go home foreigner in front of a group of parents and their children is pretty much game set and match.[/quote]

Please make a written statement to the relevant authorities - Ministry if Education, your own country`s representative here. Include names of officials involved. Even if you have given up on the public school system please help us establish a precedent for future reference. We would be much obliged.

If it had been the other way around, the whole island would be up in arms about this “loss of face”. As Tommy states, such policy makes Taiwan look backward. And even while respecting tbe policy, a much more diplomatic way could have been found to handle the matter. Heck, they could have taken your paperwork and explained it would be dealt with after locals were accomodated. And then deal with it in their own schedule. Were they afraud to be so overrun with students in a time when birth rates are plummeting? Or overrun


#6

You need to play the game, record their statement, ask they to show relevant regulations and say you will be contacting the ministry of education. It does sound like xenophobia .
I wonder were you applying to more prestigious schools in Taipei?

By the way we live in xin bei Shi but do not have huji here as my Taiwanese wife is not from here and does not own property here. We had to beg a local person to register our kid temporarily under the huji. It is extremely competitive to get into some schools. Talking in the public forum on the enrollment day put the admins on the spot and Unfortunatelty they handled it extremely badly. The reality is the system sucks for a lot of people.


#7

First was Dafeng elementary, near Cardinal Tian hospital, second was Xindian Elementary near Bitan. Neither are prestigious. Both said that every other school also had the same policy as them. They were all polite and everything but the message was a very clear no foreigners until after the admission for Taiwanese was finished.


#8

Guess we will just wait and see if there actually are any spaces left in any public schools next week, and if there is we will apply and see if we get another round of foreigner crap. If we do Ill probably have a rant and call it a day. The game isn’t worth the candle if you have to fight for a school to take your child. Because after you ‘win’ you then hand your child into the care of a school that you have just alienated. I’d rather have a clear start where we aren’t starting out as those troublesome outsiders on the very first day.


#9

[quote=“BillCollins”][quote=“headhonchoII”]
I wonder were you applying to more prestigious schools in Taipei?
[/quote]

First was Dafeng elementary, near Cardinal Tian hospital, second was Xindian Elementary near Bitan. Neither are prestigious. Both said that every other school also had the same policy as them. They were all polite and everything but the message was a very clear no foreigners until after the admission for Taiwanese was finished.[/quote]

Weird. Dafeng is supposed to have a special program for South East Asian integration and other pro foreigners exchanges and activities - I have helped with a few. Not good if a school supposedly so “pro” turns out not so.

So sorry for your experience. There are not a few foreigners in Xindian and the community has a good reputation. Better fix this fast.


#10

Before we conclude that this is a case of xenophobia we should wait until OP reports back after next week.
And as I have written in my first (long) reply, separate quotas and placements are in fact the legal reality and usually work to the benefits of foreigners, i.e. in college admissions in Taiwan. I can somewhat sympathise with the officials that OP encountered: Taiwanese parents compete for placements and a foreign family being given de-facto preference would cause social tensions. I am sure that would cause social tensions in Western countries as well.


#11

[quote=“hsinhai78”]Before we conclude that this is a case of xenophobia we should wait until OP reports back after next week.
And as I have written in my first (long) reply, separate quotas and placements are in fact the legal reality and usually work to the benefits of foreigners, i.e. in college admissions in Taiwan. I can somewhat sympathise with the officials that OP encountered: Taiwanese parents compete for placements and a foreign family being given de-facto preference would cause social tensions. I am sure that would cause social tensions in Western countries as well.[/quote]

My wife checked back with the education department website today and said that there are no places left with striking distance of Xindian. So we have been excluded from any chance of a place in a public school this year, based only nationality, and with no indication that the situation will be any different next year. The problem is not that we didn’t get a place, but that we didn’t even get to apply for the chance of a place.

My wife contacted the education department and they took her details and said they will get back to us. If they don’t get back we will contact the news, I am sure Tsai Ying Wen’s opponents would be delighted to hear a story like this.

Obviously it was unfair when foreign nationals had preferential access, but the remedy is not to take this and to turn it into no access at all.


#12

This is potentially a great leap backward for Taiwan. I sincerely hope it’s only due to a misinterpretation of the laws or some other transient snafu that is so common here. In any case, with the demographic crisis looming shouldn’t it be schools competing for admissions, especially in some sort of Xindian?

Getting the media interested is definitely the best way to approach this. Hope it works out well in the end.


#13

[quote=“BillCollins”][quote=“hsinhai78”]Before we conclude that this is a case of xenophobia we should wait until OP reports back after next week.
And as I have written in my first (long) reply, separate quotas and placements are in fact the legal reality and usually work to the benefits of foreigners, i.e. in college admissions in Taiwan. I can somewhat sympathise with the officials that OP encountered: Taiwanese parents compete for placements and a foreign family being given de-facto preference would cause social tensions. I am sure that would cause social tensions in Western countries as well.[/quote]

My wife checked back with the education department website today and said that there are no places left with striking distance of Xindian. So we have been excluded from any chance of a place in a public school this year, based only nationality, and with no indication that the situation will be any different next year. The problem is not that we didn’t get a place, but that we didn’t even get to apply for the chance of a place.

My wife contacted the education department and they took her details and said they will get back to us. If they don’t get back we will contact the news, I am sure Tsai Ying Wen’s opponents would be delighted to hear a story like this.

Obviously it was unfair when foreign nationals had preferential access, but the remedy is not to take this and to turn it into no access at all.[/quote]

Again - the website not showing any availabilities does not necessarily mean there are none for international students. Let’s hope for the best. I might suggest you also directly contact the office of Mayor Eric Chu. He used to be an assistant professor at CUNY and spent several years living in New York, hence where others might lack the multicultural perspective, he should be sympathetic for your situation.


#14

[quote=“Doraemonster”]This is potentially a great leap backward for Taiwan. I sincerely hope it’s only due to a misinterpretation of the laws or some other transient snafu that is so common here. In any case, with the demographic crisis looming shouldn’t it be schools competing for admissions, especially in some sort of Xindian?

Getting the media interested is definitely the best way to approach this. Hope it works out well in the end.[/quote]

There’s no demographic crisis in Xindian that’s for sure. I am rooting for the OP and eager to see if there will be a resolution soon or if other foreign parents have some input. It seems that disputes at these public enrollment forums are fairly common and the admins , having a lot of power and being in public place, will go back to rote regulations when accused to favoritism.
There’s a hierarchy in Taiwan and its mostly property based. I put my kid in another families huji temporarily to access the schools, my kid (who is fully Taiwanese) can’t go to some of the most popular schools cos he used a borrowed huji.


#15

[quote=“BillCollins”][quote=“hsinhai78”]Before we conclude that this is a case of xenophobia we should wait until OP reports back after next week.
And as I have written in my first (long) reply, separate quotas and placements are in fact the legal reality and usually work to the benefits of foreigners, i.e. in college admissions in Taiwan. I can somewhat sympathise with the officials that OP encountered: Taiwanese parents compete for placements and a foreign family being given de-facto preference would cause social tensions. I am sure that would cause social tensions in Western countries as well.[/quote]

My wife checked back with the education department website today and said that there are no places left with striking distance of Xindian. So we have been excluded from any chance of a place in a public school this year, based only nationality, and with no indication that the situation will be any different next year. The problem is not that we didn’t get a place, but that we didn’t even get to apply for the chance of a place.

My wife contacted the education department and they took her details and said they will get back to us. If they don’t get back we will contact the news, I am sure Tsai Ying Wen’s opponents would be delighted to hear a story like this.

Obviously it was unfair when foreign nationals had preferential access, but the remedy is not to take this and to turn it into no access at all.[/quote]

Actually, it was Tsai’s opponents the ones who wrote and executed legislation like this. the new government has been in power barely 8 days and anyways, regarding regulations, they won’t be able to make any changes in at least two years. This and many other troublesome landmines have been planted in advance to see the new Administration stumble, and general rule of thumb is that anyone who performs their job regardless of banner is considered a traitor and hence will be punished accordingly when the blues regain power -no more dorms, excluded from promotions, ostracism. Hence the difficulty in getting things done. Remember public servants cannot be fired and they will stay in their posts almost 20 years to get that lovely 18% -which does not apply to the younger generation BTW.

As HH said, this is probably a misinterpretation/mismanagement from the desk jockeys. I have met the director of Dafeng school before and he seemed like a very reasonable guy, as well as the staff. The school overall seemed very open to the diversity of nationalities in the area -I have several Latino and Vietnamese neighbors whose kids go there, and they were OKish. They are of the few schools that I know of that have special resources allocated to foreign children integration. Maybe they had a budget cut?

Which reminds me: this year the government votes on a budget decided last year by the previous Adminsitration. hence, their hands are tied.


#16

I agree with what people are saying, thanks for all the advice. The problem was stemming immediately from the enrollment guidelines they were following on the day. Those were - I presume - written by a New Taipei civil servant, and not necessarily reflected in actual legislation.

My wife had the idea to go to the blue news channel - if it came to that - because they are in national opposition so might be more likely to go with that kind of story. However the KMT are at the head to the New Taipei government.

In any case we are not going to give up on the problem yet. I said that because I was feeling bad after the experience at the weekend, but I don’t think we are likely to get this kind of unfair treatment in the long run.


#17

In reality you will probably get better treatment than my kids
In the long run. That’s what I’m betting. The system isn’t fair here . You know only 5% of kids have access to public kindergarten places right?


#18

Just to let people know the outcomes of this story:

The public officials got back to us after six days by texting the same line as in the enrollment form “locals enroll first, foreigners can apply to left over places etc”

On a happier note we found a private kindergarten at an affordable price, so I am happy that he can attend that school for the next year or two. Its a better deal than we would have gotten in my home country, where there is no public kindergarten.

In the meantime I am going to send a letter to the major Eric Chu to point out the issue, and to express the hope that things can be made more fair. Affecting Taiwan’s image as a fair society, discouraging foreign nationals needed by the economy etc etc I am not planning on going to go to the TV news, unless we come up against the same thing when it is elementary school time.

Thanks for all the good advice!


#19

You never made it clear that it was kindergarten you were applying to. Public kindergarten places are almost impossible to get. I feel we have wasted our time helping you because you’ve been economical with
Your information here.


#20

You and the queen is it?