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Structure of Education System in Japan

In the world of knowledge based communities and speedy Globalisation, there is an increasing need of quality education system. Japanese education system has been emerged as a well developed and quality education provider.
Japan is basically a technological country, so the teaching methodology is a techno-nihilist form of education. The curriculum is designed in such a way that the children develop motor skills early on. While school is mandatory till the child reaches the secondary level, there are multiple systems with local variations to promote higher education. Vocational education is systematically planned to keep the students at par with the global standards.

The structure of education system in Japan includes preschool, primary, lower secondary, higher secondary and college/university. Admission to all levels of education requires passing of entrance exams. There are entrance exams for students entering preschool, primary, lower secondary, higher secondary, and colleges/universities. The most essential tests are those given for entrance to the higher secondary schools and the universities. Both public and private high schools in Japan require such tests and usually test the main five fields: Japanese, English, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies.

Pre-primary Education

Pre-Primary Education is provided either through a kindergarten/play school, which is an educational institution, or through a day-care centre, which is a kind of well being institution as defined by the Child Welfare Law. These institutions are proposed to develop the cognitive skills of kids from age one to five and therefore, to prepare them for the six years of compulsory elementary level of education.

Most of the schools providing pre-primary education are of private funding. Few public or government funded pre-primary schools are also there.

Primary Education (Elementary Education)

Elementary education in Japan begins at the age of 6 and is mandatory for children to attend school for this  period. years. Lower secondary education is the final stage of mandatory education and caters to students from 12 to 15 years of age.

Education in elementary school consisting grades one to six. Elementary teachers are usually responsible for all subjects, and classes remain in a single room for maximum activities. All the teachers and professors are very well prepared.

There are both private and public schools for elementary level of education. Almost 100% students from pre-primary schools go for elementary education.

Lower-Secondary Education (Junior High School)

Lower-Secondary Education covers grades seven, eight, and nine- children from the ages of roughly twelve to fifteen--with special focus on academic studies.

Lower Secondary level of education is not compulsory in Japan, but almost 96% of students from primary level do go for secondary level. The public schools for secondary education are more, as compared to private schools in Japan. Also, the private schools are more expensive than public schools.

At the lower secondary school, a teacher is assigned to teach one specific subject. Subjects covered in secondary level of education are mathematics, science, social studies, art and crafts, English, health, fine arts, physical education, music and other foreign languages too. Since 2011, English has been made compulsory in the school curriculum. So, many native English speakers are being hired to improve the standard of English Education in schools in Japan.

Some teachers are allotted to take the responsibilities for the classroom along with teaching a specific subject. Generally, the class-assigned teacher is responsible for providing students academic and career guidance. Also, it is her responsibility to prepare documents and academic records of students such as report cards, teaching-learning record (Shido-Yoroku), dossiers, etc. Of late, however, in maximum cases experts take over the task of providing career guidance.

In addition, school also covers the extra-curricular activities like sports, moral studies and industrial arts.

Upper-Secondary Education (Senior High School)

Even though upper-secondary education is not compulsory in Japan, but almost 94-96% of students passed from junior high school go for senior high school education. It is again three years of education. More than 50% schools providing senior high school level of education are of private funding.

The curriculum includes basic subjects like Mathematics, Science, English and Japanese. In the later years of high school education some vocational and technical courses are also included in the curriculum. Courses like business, fish farming, information processing, accounting and computers are quite popular among students.

Upper-Secondary schools are structured into departments, and teachers specialize in their fields arena although they teach diverse courses within their disciplines. They are generally University Graduates. They work with the goal of covering all the aspects of the subject elected by a student within the academic year. Special trainings of technical courses are given to students with disability, thereby making them independent enough to survive on their own means.

University/Higher Level of Education

In the age of knowledge-based society and enduring globalisation, higher education institutions play indispensable roles. Under such circumstances, Japanese higher level of education has been highly treasured. There are more than 700 Universities all over in Japan. Normally, three to four year of university education makes a student graduate in Bachelor’s degree. Also, there are some professional degree/diploma courses spanning 5 to 6 years of education. Most popular subjects among students in Japan are Business Management, Accounting, Engineering, Law, Humanities and Social Sciences.

In Japan, public universities enjoy better prestige than their private counterparts and only about 27 percent students manage to get admission in public universities. The tuition fee of Private universities is manifold as compared to a Public varsity so, students opt for correspondence and distance courses along with a part time job.

The University of Tokyo

The University of Tokyo is indeed the Harvard of Japan. It is the highest ranked university in Asia. Internationally, the university has been rated as high as 6th in the World.

Kyoto University

Kyoto is the second oldest Japnese University. Asia’s leading research-oriented universities, Kyoto is famed for producing top-notch researchers, including eight Nobel Prize laureates, one Gauss Prize, and two Fields medalists. Its three campuses accommodate around 27,700 students and an expert faculty of around 2,900 teachers & professors.

Osaka University

Osaka University is specifically for those who wish to study medicine, sciences, law, and technology. It has been ranked as high as 43rd in the world. 

Tokyo Institute of Technology

The Tokyo Institute of Technology has been ranked 37th in the world in the field of Engineering and Technology.

Tohoku University

Tohoku University is often positioned amongst the top 50 universities in the world. Its three core principles are – first research, an open-door policy, and practice oriented research and education

Keio University

Keio is the oldest University of Japan. It is well connected with political leaders – its alumni consist of three Japanese prime ministers. 

Nagoya University

Nagoya University's core principles are to support and encourage intelligentsia by providing education which respects independent thought. Its alumni include four Nobel Prize winners. The University retains a healthy international environment. Presently, approx. 13% are foreign students.

Hakkaido University

Kakkaido is a small university in downtown Sapporo that has been ranked 139th in the World.

Tsukuba University

Tsukuba University is one of the oldest Japanese universities. Its strong academic traditions have propelled it into Japan's top most universities. Its alumni include three Nobel laureates. Tsukuba's college campus is the largest in Japan.

Kobe University

Kobe University has an admirable reputation for a pretty new university. The university was founded after WWII in 1949.

Making students of Japan capable of working with Western talent is the high priority agenda of Japanese government, in terms of its Education system. Educational administration is controlled by the departments of Ministry of Education,  Culture, Sports and Science and Technology. Japan is well known for its best class of education and zero percent illiteracy rates.

Ministry of Education keeps an eye on the curriculum and supervises to provide best education and maintains high standard of education all over Japan.

Despite all the efforts of Japanese government, its education system has few loop holes into it.  The war like conditions between students regarding entrance exams and lack of financial aids from the government weakens the education facilities at government or public institutes. Lack of individualism impairs the system to some extent. But the contribution of literate population into the growth of the country as a whole is impeccable.
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