Sat, Apr 17, 2010 - Page 2 News List

Homeschooled students face special challenges

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

While homeschooling is recognized by the Ministry of Education (MOE), it is challenging, with some authorities still reluctant to offer necessary help to homeschoolers, parents of homeschoolers said yesterday.

“I chose to homeschool my kids instead of sending them to school because I wanted them to be healthy, to be free to think about their future, to care about the society they are living in — and it's in homeschooling that I see that hope,” Yang Wen-li (楊文麗), a mother of two homeschooled children, told reporters outside a conference on education in Banciao City (板橋), Taipei County, yesterday.

Yang did not plan to homeschool her kids at first. The idea only came up two years ago when her elder son was in fifth grade and her younger in third grade. At the time, she was very disappointed in the country’s education system, and decided to take her children away from it.

“We always tell kids to pay attention in school, but you would know how hard it is if you saw how boring the atmosphere is, how mechanical the teaching is in the classroom and how a third grader has to work until 10pm or 11pm on homework,” Yang said.

“They’re just making those kids hate school,” Yang said.

Only two years after she switched her elder son to homeschooling, Yang said, her son not only takes the initiative to discuss social issues with her, but also pays attention to international affairs.

“The most important thing is that I know my kids are learning, and they are happy,” she said.

Although the 883 registered homeschooling students may enjoy learning, they face challenges as they lack support from educational authorities when it comes to college — and high school — admission.

Since relevant laws on higher education allow only high school graduates or certified adults over 20 years of age to be admitted into universities, most homeschoolers are forced to discontinue homeschooling when they reach high school age.

“Ultimately, we would like the government to come up with an alternative system to allow qualified homeschoolers to gain college admission, but before that happens, homeschoolers face problems getting into high schools,” Taiwan Homeschool Advocates chairman Tim Chen (陳怡光) said.

Chen said Taipei City is the only place where local education authorities allow homeschoolers whose grades meet admission standards into high schools.

He said that homeschoolers’ grades can be either given by certified homeschooling teachers — usually parents — or by regular schools if they choose to participate in exams at local schools.

“Although the Ministry of Education says that homeschoolers have the right to go to high school, most local education authorities — except Taipei City — are not following the direction,” Chen said.

“It doesn't make any sense because homeschooling is completely legal — and it's regulated and pre-approved,” Chen said.“If the government allows it, they should provide support and assistance; after all, education is part of the government's job and homeschooling is part of education.”

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