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Japan to Abolish School District System

Posted July. 29, 2008 03:18,   


Japan is set to abolish its school district system, which has been the key to its standardization of public high schools for more than half a century.

Introduced in 1956 to give students equal opportunity to education and prevent the creation of school rankings, the system divides each prefecture into several school districts. Students must choose which high school in the district they belong to.

According to a survey of 47 Japanese prefectures released yesterday by Japan’s leading daily Yomiuri Shimbun, 23 provinces since 2003, when a clause requiring prefectures to establish school districts was removed, have abolished school districts and nine have expanded a student’s right to choose a school by consolidating districts.

Among prefectures that have reduced the number of school districts, Hokkaido and Kyoto will push for another consolidation of remaining districts, the daily said. Miyazaki plans to repeal the system in 2010 and Kumamoto will reduce the number of districts through consolidation the same year.

Two reasons are driving prefectures to abolish the system. The first is the failure of the system to satisfy the diversifying educational needs of both students and parents, and the second is student aversion to public high schools.

The repeal of the system in big cities including Tokyo has largely mitigated student preference for private over public high schools. This is a testament to the negative effects of the school district system.