School refusal

The number of students are unable to go to school for psychological reasons is annually increasing. According to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, 26,044 elementary school students and 104,064 junior high school students were absent for more than thirty days in 1999. During a period with the number of students unable to attend regular classes increased, a practice was adopted known as hokenshitsu toko (attending school in the infirmary). Such students were encouraged to study at school but under the supervision of the health teacher rather than in their regular home room.‘‘One reason is thought to be that student needs and learning styles have diversified and educational practices and systems need to provide more individualized instruction. From 1995, the Ministry began employing school counselors and boards of education and private facilities have begun establishing support centers. An estimated 800 "free schools" in Japan accept children who cannot go to regular school or who have dropped out. These schools provide independence and learning opportunities appropriate to each individual.

The majority of school counselors, employed by the Ministry to serve in elementary and junior high schools since 1995, are clinical psychologists. They listen to the students' problems, advise the teachers, and also counsel parents. The number of schools with counselors had reached 2,250 in 2000.

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