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Japan`s Educational Reform a Failure

Posted October. 29, 2007 03:32,   


The Central Education Council (CEC) in Japan is scheduled to announce its interim report on Japan’s educational reform program called “yutori (leisurely) education.” In the announcement, the council is expected to criticize the educational reform in that the reduction in class hours resulted in insufficient basic education, and the reform measures failed to nurture students’ thinking power and power of expression, its two top priorities.

The council has been arguing that the purpose of public education is the development of “power to live,” including a mindset to care for others, the power of expression, and thinking power.

Under this orientation, school teaching ordinances which were implemented since 2002 called for a 30 percent cut in curriculum content and a 10 percent reduction in school hours. This measure aimed to eliminate cramming at schools.

In this report, there are other criticism items against the yutori education in addition to the side effects of reduced class hours: the education authority failed to make teachers and parents understand the importance of “power to live”; teachers became more reluctant to give instructions to students in an attempt to respect their self will; and the education authority did not realize that the educational capacity of the local communities and families are undermined.

Another reason behind the failure of yutori education is that teachers mistakenly regarded giving basic knowledge education to students as “cramming” education, the council also said.

According to a new school teaching ordinance submitted by the council and under review by the Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture in Japan (MESSC), school hours in important subjects such as English, Japanese, and mathematics would increase by 10 percent, and the hours teaching other selective subjects would be greatly reduced.

Even though this new measure seems intended to scrap yutori education, the MESSC still argues that the concept of yutori education is not wrong, and the only concern is how to implement it properly.

The criticism in the interim report is intended to prevent misunderstanding of school teachers about the new policy direction.