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Education(教育)

Hello everyone,

Education is a topic that influences the future of each country.

I would like to talk about the current educational system of Japan, major differences between Japanese schools and American schools and the current problems in education.

First I will tell you about the current educational system in Japan.

The original modern educational system was established in 1872. Before that, in the Edo period, “terakoya”, literally “a temple-shack” (see picture below) was the place where ordinary people received an education. At first the period of compulsory education was 4 years, and it was stated that everyone had an opportunity to study in the system regardless of one’s social standing, sex and whether one was rich or poor, as long as the students paid tuition and other necessary expenses.  “The system developed under the centralized government, and nationally authorized textbooks came to be used in 1903. Compulsory education was extended to 6 years in 1907. Until the end of World War Ⅱ in 1945, education policy based on nationalism was emphasized. At the time, male students and female students studied in different classrooms. The new School Education Law was enacted in 1947, by which the current school system was formed. Under this system, 6 years of elementary school and 3 years of junior high school were made compulsory. Advanced education offered but not compulsory was 3 years of high school and 4 years of university.”(Source: American Daily Herald)

The following is a list of schools and age groups of students:
Kindergarten – 1 to 3 years
Elementary school – 6 years between the age of 6 and 12
Junior high school – 3 years between the age of 13 and 15
High school – 3 years
Technical college – 2 years
University – 4 years
Special training school – more than 1 year
Vocational school – more than 1 year

Elementary and junior high schools are compulsory. The technical college is designed to provide technical training for industrial purposes including shipbuilding for people with junior high school diplomas or higher academic education. Special training schools teach skills such as cooking, sewing, bookkeeping and architecture design. It consists of the senior course for junior high school graduates and the professional course for people with a high school diploma or higher academic education. Special education schools provide education for people with physical disabilities.

The percentage of  high school graduates who go on to universities was 50.2% in 2009. The figure was 10.3% in 1960, which means five times as many students as 50 years ago now enter universities. Nearly 100% of junior high school graduates go on to high schools. Some people say that high school also should be compulsory.

As a whole, the school systems of the two countries are not very different except that in the United States medical schools, law schools and business schools are designed as graduate schools of universities. Differences lie in other areas of  the educational systems. For example, American schools, unlike their Japanese counterparts, do not have a uniform “study guidance” system proposed by the government, and besides solely academic courses, they offer classes to acquire practical skills. Neither textbook inspection systems by the government nor keen competition to enter colleges exist in the United States. In spite of the infamous “examination hell,” most Japanese universities are said to be hard to enter but quite easy to graduate from.

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