The culture of education in Japan is quite specific. In Japan, the education is a cult which is supported by the society, state and family. The main feature of it is a strict following to traditions. Japanese people need to study constantly and intensively in order to take the worthy place in life. An educated person is considered to be a key to the prosperity of the future nation.
Before a child turns 5 years old, he is treated as an emperor with no punishments and raising a voice at him; from 5 till 15 – as a slave of educational and upbringing processes; and after 15 – as an equal.
Japanese education system is based on the best traditions wisely collected from the whole world, along with a specific approach that allows investigating each subject rather than just studying it. This explains a deep knowledge Japanese students usually have.
Almost all preschool institutions are private in Japan; the attendance is optional and not free. The system of preschool education is aimed at preparing kids to become future members of collectives or corporations.
School system comprises three steps:
- Elementary school (from 6 to 12 years with classes from 1 to 6);
- Lower secondary school (from 12 to 15 years with classes from 7 to 9);
- High school (from 15 to 18 years with classes from 10 to 12).
Two first steps are compulsory and, in the most cases, are free. Further education in Japan is carried out on a voluntary basis. It means that the high school is obligatory only for those who want to enter the university, and this step, as a rule, requires the investment of money. Statistics show that nearly 94% of pupils in Japan graduate from high school.
The academic year starts in April and takes three semesters. Summer holidays lasts from 1 to 1, 5 months. The program of teaching varies from school to school. Still, it is always based on the standards approved by the Ministry of Education.
A distinctive feature of school education in Japan is that every year classes are formed in a new way. It means that every year a student has to find common ground and language with his constantly changing peers. That allows not to be bent on the same people and to develop the feeling of collectivism.
After school classes, children usually go to additional educational institutions where they are able to gain the necessary knowledge to enter a high school and university. In this case, a student has to spend approximately 6 hours a day preparing homework.
At elementary school kids study Japanese, mathematics, natural sciences (physics, chemistry, biology), social science (ethics, history, etiquette), music, fine arts, physical culture and a household. Studies take place not only in the form of traditional lessons but also in the form of games and modeling. At the end of the sixth class, pupils take final examinations. It is the first exam they have to pass. Until that time only small tests are possible. The reason is that the emphasis during the first six years is placed on a personal development, respectful attitude towards other people and animals, ability to sympathy, careful attitude to nature.
The lower secondary school system, along with some obligatory subjects, also provides several special subjects chosen by pupils. The list of subjects depends on the features of a certain school. Secondary school is also a period when students start to learn foreign languages. Usually, English starts at this level. Also, pupils are gaining practical skills on housekeeping and the elementary labor abilities.
The program of high school education gives more opportunities for specialization in this or that area of knowledge. To enter the high school, pupils need to pass an entrance examination.
There are two types of schools: general and specialized ones. Those who are interested in such fields as agriculture, sea trade, and housekeeping, are able to choose a direction they want to specialize in. Still, most of the students from larger cities choose general education path that allows them to enter university.
Pupils of secondary and high school have to pass examinations at the end of each trimester and in the middle of the first and second trimesters. At the end of trimesters, they have to pass examinations in all subjects studied. The highest mark is 100 points.
At the end of studying in the higher school pupils have to pass a test, which will define their ability to enter university. Each graduate has to choose just one establishment and this choice will define future salary and future standard of living. At the same time, the competition is very high: 76% of graduates continue training after school.
One of the most honorable parts at the Japanese schools is traditionally assigned to teachers. They not only provide pupils with knowledge, they are the mentors of teenagers in their first steps on a life journey. Various forms of financial incentives are used to maintain a high status of teachers in Japan.
Higher education in Japan is supported by considerable amounts of money spent on its development. Also, it is worth to mention constantly improving training programs.
Higher education is not free but still, students have an ability to save money by having a grant provided by the government. It is worth to mention that 80% of all students in the country have to pay for higher education, while20% are happy to use Japanese Government Scholarship. Also, it is commonly believed that the easiest and the most carefree period of life for Japanese students begins when they enter university.
Higher education system is made up of:
- Universities of a full cycle (4-years training program);
- Universities with the crash 2-years program;
- Professional colleges;
- Technical institutes.
To graduate from university successfully, it is necessary to pass all the exams and to get a certain number of points during your study.
A Bachelor’s degree takes four years to complete. The program is formed on studying of literature, philosophy, social science and foreign languages. Then, everyone who is interested in career ladder promotion can get a Master’s degree. It will take additional two years. Those who are filled with the admiration for research work can get a Doctor’s degree. It will take 3 more years.
The most popular forms of higher education in Japan are constantly changing along with the changing society. In modern days, short-term courses have become very popular; especially, when it comes to such fields as economy, social science, Japanese culture, and language. These fields are quite popular both among foreign stents and Japanese students, who never stop the process of learning and training.