Tuesday's Taiwan-ism {Cram Schools}










Cram schools, also known in Chinese as Buxibans [pronounced Bu-she-ban] are EVERYWHERE in Taiwan (and from what I head in China as well). Likewise, they apparently spread throughout much of Asia but go by different names within each country.

Regardless of where they are or what you call them though, their purpose remains the same...they are school after school.

In the United States is is typical for students, if both their parents are working 1st shift, to attend sports, day care centers, babysitters, or other after school care providers until one or both of their parents are available to pick them up for the evening. Traditionally though, even families who utilize these services, have their children home between 4 and 6pm so they are able to enjoy a family meal together, work on homework, and spend the evening with their children.

In Taiwan though, when that final bell rings for children to be dismissed from school, we have quite a different site than the typical yellow school bus or mom's carpool lane that we might be used to seeing in many American schools. At 3:50 when children are dismissed from the public schools, many of the children are picked up by a teacher from their buxiban and the groups of children are led to one of the dozens of buxibans that are scattered around each town here in Taiwan to begin their second round of school for the day.

Buxibans often are based around teaching math, Chinese, or English, but especially in larger cities, a parent can find a buxiban specializing in nearly any subject under the sun. Though younger children may only stay at a buxiban until 5 or 6 in the evening {for a total of 10.5 hours of schooling a day} many high pressure parents of high schoolers have their students enrolled in 1, 2, or 3 different buxibans until 10 or 11 o'clock at night! {That's up to 16 hours of schooling a day...everyday!}...and we wonder why many of the students in Asian countries are so more advanced than many of our students!

As the students age, their time spent in the buxiban also tends to increase. In families where it is expected that the children will go to great university and become doctors and engineers, the students may also attend buxibans or other remedial classes on Saturdays and Sundays to ensure that they are focusing all of their time and energy on becoming the absolute best student they can be...and then some!

Near me two of the larger schools, having multiple branches each, are American Eagle Institute and Giraffe English School, but there are countless smaller "ma & pa" cram schools as well. This notion of a school after school is still something I try to wrap my head around here in Taiwan, but good or bad, it's here to stay in Taiwan!