Taiwan’s low fertility rate has a record number of schools in Greater Tainan switching over to the open admissions system, with 123 and 19 of Greater Tainan’s elementary and junior high schools making the change respectively. Dealing with competitive enrollment, many school principals are gasping at how free tutorials and art classes no longer attract new students, and instead are having to rely on academic performance to draw parents and students.
Greater Tainan’s Bureau of Education says that changes in the urban structure, coupled with the effects of the low fertility rate, have gradually brought about a downturn in new student enrollment, making it difficult for schools to continue operating. There were already many “open admissions school districts” prior to the merger of former Tainan county and city, districts which were open to any new student registered for a household in former Tainan city. The students were not restricted to any particular school district either. After the merger, “schools in open admissions school districts” became simply “open admissions schools,” while enrollment qualifications were left unchanged.
During the 2012 academic year, when the county and city had just merged, there were a total of three junior high schools and 23 elementary schools designated as open admissions schools. The following academic year the bureau began taking into consideration the operational situation of schools, regardless of whether they are junior high schools or elementary schools. As long as a school had fewer than six classes in all, it was automatically designated as an open admissions school, which brought the total number of open admissions junior high schools to four, while the number of such elementary schools sharply increased to 108.
Around a dozen other schools this year, besides the schools that already had open admissions status, submitted applications to allow open admissions. After being reviewed by the bureau, a total of 19 junior high schools and 123 elementary schools have been issued open admissions status — a new high for both elementary and junior high schools.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)