The Japanese Education System

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In any culture, school is an important influence in the early years of a person’s life. Japanese students spend a larger amount of time in school than their western counterparts, and as such, the education system plays a large role in how they grow up, fit into society and relate to problems in adulthood. Japanese tradition values honour, respect and achievement and these values are apparent in the education system. School emphasizes diligence, self-criticism and well-organized study habits. The structure of the education system is also structured on the idea that all people are born with the same mental capacity and intelligence, and it is the amount of effort that they put into their work that will determine the standard. School life also teaches correct attitudes and moral values, and is said to aim at creating a citizenry that is both literate and attuned to the basic values of culture and society. The academic achievement of Japanese students is high by international standards, and they consistently rank at or near the top in international tests like PISA. There are three types of education in Japan: public school, private school, and private schools that do not adhere to the standards set by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). School in Japan consists of kindergarten (yochien), elementary school (shogakkou), junior high (chogakkou) and senior high (koukou). School after year 9 is not compulsory, but more than 90% of the population continues on. More than 2.5 million of these go on to universities and colleges. Entrance examinations are required for high school and up, and this means that competition between children to get a place in the top schools is strong. Along with their compulsory schooling, many children attend ‘cram’ schools for extra study. Japan has one of the most stressful education systems,
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