Educational reform
きょういく かいかく

Bullying, school refusal, violence in the schools, classroom breakdown, and the high-school dropout rate have become increasingly serious concerns since the 1980s. One of the causes is thought to be the system of education centered around uniform, rote-learning that developed during the period of rapid economic growth in the 1960s. The system and was symbolized by absolute faith in percentile rankings (hensachi) for student evaluation. In the 1990s, the Ad Hoc Council for Educational Reform under the Prime Minister, the Central Council for Education under the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, and other councils, submitted various reports calling for reform of the postwar education system and on this basis concrete steps are now being taken towards relaxing some of the regulations and effecting major reforms in the content and structure of Japanese education. Another major focus of their deliberations is revision of the Fundamental Law of Education. 《→Kyoiku Kihon Ho 教育基本法 Fundamental Law of Education》

In response partly to the complete adoption of the five-day school week, the Guidelines for the Course of Study to be implemented from 2002 include a reduction of approximately 10% in the number of class hours, a 30% reduction in curriculum content, establishment of the new subject of "integrated studies" (sogo kyoiku), and the introduction of additional subjects selected by the school in the upper elementary curriculum. These changes are designed to promote greater emphasis on problem-solving, independent learning, individuality and diversity. At the same time, however, the decline in scholastic ability among high school and university students is a new cause for concern and has stimulated intense debate on appropriate reforms.

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