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Back to Japan

Japanese Education and Literacy

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Languages:
Japanese
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99% (2002)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 15 years
male: 15 years
female: 15 years (2008)
Education expenditures:
3.7% of GDP (2007)
country comparison to the world: 126

As of May 1995 approximately 23.7 million people were receiving education in Japan from the kindergarten to the university level.  This figure includes students attending so-called miscellaneous schools, which primarily provide vocational and practical training.  About 12.9 million were receiving compulsory education at elementary schools (six years starting at the age of six) and junior high schools (three years).  

 Of the rest, 1,808,432 were attending kindergartens, 4,724,945 senior high schools (three years), 2,546,649 universities (four years) and graduate schools.

The school attendance rate for the nine years of compulsory education 99.99%.  In 1979 education of mentally and physically handicapped and sickly children also became compulsory.  As a result, children until then exempt from or allowed to delay their schooling, such as bedridden children, were registered at schools and began receiving education at their homes from visiting teachers.

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The rate of advancement from compulsory education to senior high schools was 96.7% in 1995.  Meanwhile, the rate of advancement to universities and junior colleges reached 45.5%.

Japan's education system played a central part in enabling the country to meet the challenges presented by the need to quickly absorb Western ideas, science and technology, and it was also a key part in Japan's recovery and rapid economic growth in the decades following the end of World War II.

After WWII, the Fundamental Law on Education and the School Education law were enacted in 1947 under the direction of the Occupation forces.  The latter law defined the system that is still in use today: six years of elementary school, three years of junior high school, three years of high school, two or four years of university.  Elementary and junior high school attendance is compulsory.

Education prior to elementary school is provided at kindergartens and day-care centers.  Public and private day-care centers will take children from under age one on up to 5 years old.  The programs for those children ages 3-5 resembles those at kindergartens.

  The educational approach at kindergartens various greatly from unstructured environments that emphasize play to highly structured environments that are focused on having the child pass the entrance exam at a private elementary school. 

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