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15 Apr 2002
Education in Japan has it's roots in Chinese Confucinism [jukyo].

At one time, any child from any back ground was able to challenge the national test (similar in some sense to the American S.A.T and G.R.E) which is created by the Ministry of Education [Monbusho] aka [jiji] old farts. A students score would allow him to be placed in the according National University.

1. Tokyo
2. Osaka
3. Kyoto
4. Hokkaido (Sapporo)

Of course, similar tests are used for high school.

I'm sure many have heard of [kyoiku-mamas] Education Mothers, elevator systems (enter a pre-school which let's you graduate from a decent college) and [jukus] cram schools. But, what happened to that scholastic ability based system that was mentioned above?

Japan places very high importance on social status (think of the Germans). Going to a school like [todai] Tokyo University basically means you either be a diplomat or a wealthy businessman. With the lower ranking schools providing lower ranking jobs.

So, now with basically 1.3 children per household fathers pressure mothers to send their children off to the best possibly job. At times, this job pressure bears down upon pre-school age children. Young 4 - 5 year olds are pressured into getting into the best pre-school which allows then to get into the best elementary school which continues until college.

If a school doesn't teach enough, children must go to a [juku] to study what isn't being taught at school or to at least stay on par with their classmates. Children go straight off to juku after school.

Recently, the [monbusho] has lightened the school work load but now my 6th grader is complaining that he must study what he studied last year. (It seems that 6th Japanese math is now the same as 4th grade American math. I compared my student's book to a all-around curriculm course book from America. Pretty good research eh!) Funny thing is that this boy is uch more interested in playing outside than studying and his mother is only relatively worried about his education since his Grandfather owns a big concrete company in town.

Much is being discussed now about this issue.

Also, another factor is money. To get into the right pre-school or at least [juku] requires money. Poor children can't afford [juku] or even English lesson thereby putting them at a major disadvantage even at school. I teach at a private school which ranks pretty high in Hokkaido and this year 3 boys out of 30 (3 classrooms basically still 3 out of 30) hadn't studied English yet. Poor kids have to study double just catch up in the first week.

I'll broaden upon English and women later. I gotta go to work 🙂
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