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History of education in Japan


Japanese school
Japanese school

The early history of Japanese education was profoundly affected by the Chinese. From the Chinese, the Japanese acquired new crafts and, most important, a system of writing. The acquisition of writing cannot be precisely dated, but by about AD 400 Korean scribes were using Chinese ideographs for official records at the Japanese imperial courts. Education in ancient Japan, however, was more aristocratic than in the Chinese system, with noble families maintaining their own private schooling facilities. During the medieval military-feudal period, Buddhist temples assumed much responsibility for education. Under the Tokugawa shogunate, which dominated the country from 1600, educational facilities spread to create one of the most literate of all pre-modern societies.

With the onset of the rule of Emperor Meiji and the so-called Meiji Restoration of 1868, Japan underwent a radical transformation in education as well as in social and economic matters. A ministry of education was created in 1872, and in the same year a comprehensive educational code that included universal primary education was formulated. The government sent educational missions to Europe and America to learn new educational approaches; it also invited foreign educators to carry on educational programmes and initiate changes in Japanese schools. In 1877, during this period of innovation, the University of Tokyo was founded.

As a result of these reforms, Japan emerged as a modern nation with a full educational system that was in line with much of Western practice. The defeat of Japan in World War II resulted in educational changes, many of which were recommended in 1946 by a US educational mission; some of these changes were discontinued when Japan regained sovereign status as a nation in 1952.

The teaching of nationalistic ideology was banned, greater emphasis was placed on social studies, and classroom procedures were redesigned to encourage self-expression. Education in Japan is centralized under the Ministry of Education. Its school system operates under the Fundamental Law of Education of 1947 and subsequent legislation and enables all students to compete for admission to institutions of higher education. One of the continuing problems facing Japanese educators is the teaching of the complex Japanese language, which combines several scripts. In 1995, 4.7 per cent of the state budget was spent on education.

Elementary and Secondary Schools in Japan


Education is free and compulsory for nine years—that is, six of elementary school and three of junior high school. Beyond the junior high school level, education is optional, and a small tuition fee is charged, even in public senior high schools and public institutions of higher learning. In 1997–1998 Japan had about 24,376 primary schools attended by some 7.39 million pupils and, in 1995, about 16,775 secondary schools with about 9.3 million pupils. Primary school teachers numbered about 362,605 (1996), and there were some 552,137 (1995) secondary school teachers. Technical, commercial, and vocational schools are also maintained, as are schools for the physically disabled. Private tutorial colleges are a widespread and popular adjunct to the fiercely competitive educational system.

Universities and Colleges


Japan has about 60 national (formerly called imperial) universities and many private universities. Among the biggest national universities are Chiba University (1949); Hiroshima University (1949); Hokkaido University (1876) at Sapporo; Kōbe University (1949); Kyoto University (1897); Kyushu University (1911) at Fukuoka; Nagoya University (1939); Okayama University (1949); Osaka University (1931); Tohoku University (1907) at Sendai; the University of Tokyo (1877); and the University of Tsukuba (1973). Major private institutions include Hosei University (1880), Nihon University (1889), and Waseda University (1882), in Tokyo; Doshisha University (1875) in Kyoto; Fukuoka University (1934); and Kansai University (1886) in Osaka. In 1995, institutions of higher education in Japan had a combined enrolment of over 2.5 million students. "Japan" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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