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執筆 上野陽子
2013/3 Up

第38回 4月始業と日本の教育制度
Vol.38 Starting the school year in April and Japan’s educational system

About what percentage of junior high school students advance to high school in Japan now?


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Compulsory education system and matriculation rates

Education is compulsory in Japan. During six years of elementary school and three years of junior high school, parents have a duty to make sure their children attend school.
The number of junior high school students who go on to high school has grown to 97 percent now, even though high school education is not compulsory.
In 1955 only 7.9 percent of high school students went on to college, but this has increased to 50.2 percent in 2009. In 2012, 59.1 percent of high school students continued on to study at university or a two-year college.


Differences between college and university

At junior college in Japan it takes two years to graduate. Community colleges in the U.S. are managed by the state, county or other institutions, so everybody who lives in an area can study there. In Japan, however, you have to take an entrance exam, even for a junior college, just as you do for entrance to a university. There are also some open universities such as Hoso-daigaku, in which you can get anything from a single credit to a diploma.
In most departments, students at university study for four years. Schools that teach many disciplines are called universities. In the U.S., a college may refer to both a school that has only one department as well as a department in a larger university. Usually people just call both of them universities and don't make a distinction in Japan.


Starting the school year from September – a trial

Entrance ceremonies are held at the beginning of April and this is when all schools start their academic year. The second term starts in September and the third term runs from January to March. Schools in the southern part of Japan tend to have longer summer holidays while schools in the northern part have longer winter holidays.
Many schools outside of Japan start in September, so some schools are trying to run parallel and start their own school year in September. However, this doesn't suit the Japanese fiscal year or common recruitment schedules so it's quite controversial. Come to think of it, there were some other systems that could not be successfully introduced to Japan, such as adjusting the clocks during summer time and using the dollar along with the Japanese yen.
We need to respond to internationalization, however, we also need to respect Japanese cultural traditions such as commencing endeavors optimistically in the spring season while enjoying cherry blossoms, and starting the new academic year in a happy mood. This is a controversial debate that pits conventional Japanese sensibilities against the realities of globalization.



Statistics show that about 97 percent of junior high school students go on to high school.

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