The Importance of Nighttime Course Education in Japanese High Schools

- Miyako Tachibana
Haneda High School, Haneda, Japan
Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 12 (2002), 224-5.

In general concern, one strength of the Japanese people is based on the school system, however the systems cause problems that we need to consider. I will give some information and present a proposal.

I am a high school teacher in Tokyo. I don't use English so much in my daily work. I will give you some information about some problems being faced in Japanese high schools. A wide spread concern is that one of the Japanese people's strengths is based on the school systems, however the systems cause dark effects as well.

First I wish to briefly explain Japanese school systems. Mandatory education is a 9-year program. Students have to attend from the age 6-15. After the age 15 students who want go onto higher education have to pass the entrance examination. The senior high school course is a 3-year program, nobody cannot skip the course before college education. Therefore the first academic barrier of Japanese children is at the age of 15.

High schools are classified into 5 courses. General course for preparing college education technical course for basic technical work, business course for basic paper work, agricultural course for basic agriculture work, and night course for daytime work student. The General course requires a higher score in exams than any other courses.

In the case of Tokyo the student population ratio of each courses is general is 65%, Business is 10%, technical is 8%, agricultural is 7%, and night time is 5%. The majority of students take the general course but the general course is also classified into different levels depending on the range of student's achievement. 98% of middle school graduate students go to high school.

Now we have ethical and social problems. There are family and school violence including murder, bullying (Japanese ijime) which sometimes leads to suicide, drug addiction and under age girl prostitution. These symptoms cause students to drop out of high school or refuse to attend school in lower level education.

From my point of view, the causes of these problems are not simple. But losing traditional Japanesemorals is one of them, for example, expressing respect to senior age persons. To work well together as a team. and changing of sense of life expectations especially in the younger ages.School teachers have tactics for improving these symptoms in class and school extra curricular programs. However there are no clear changes.

I think a lack of optimistic hope in Japanese society is another reason for the problems. There is a prolonged recession due to the high increase of senior citizens and expanding foreign population, high decrease of child population and less tax revenue. Even more in public schools local education boards have a strong power, each school has very little autonomy. Those factors contribute to the rise in the number of mental disorders and apathy among teachers and students.

If we really want to overcome the current Japanese school issues, it is not going to be easy. Teachers and students need more flexibility in education style and curriculum content. Also to realize the acceptance of diversity and sense of value, each person has a different criteria for achieving happiness in life. These are general in the world, however I feel Japanese society is not generous compare to other countries.

Now let me describe one aspect of compulsory education in Japan. It is a 9-year program, and we also have a special education system for mentally or/and physically handicapped children. This system is also a 9-year program.

Night time course education began in 1947. In the beginning, the aim of the course was to provide upper secondary education for working students. But since the early 70s the purpose of the nighttime course has changed. Now it is for the mentally or/and physically handicapped, foreign working students, people who didn't have adequate educational opportunities in their youth, and dropouts from the daytime program.

The benefits of nighttime course include: Low cost without reducing the quality of facilities and materials; Greater flexibility; More committed teachers and staff. Because of the worsening Japanese economic condition, bureaucrats intend to reduce educational budgets including funding for night time education. However, the importance of these special programs remains high.

We should encourage greater sensitivity of the diversity of our students' individuality. This will help foster understanding and acceptance of all minorities: handicapped people, foreigners, and students from diverse social backgrounds

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