Get a step closer to Japan by discovering the education system followed there. This article highlights the Japanese educational structure.

Education System in Japan

The phenomenal turns of the seasons, diverse topography, and rich nature can easily be viewed through the naked eye in the fascinating nation of Japan. The old and the new, and the natural and the artificial merge with such perfection that draws a significant number of tourists to this spellbinding destination, only to increase year after year. But that isn’t all that Japan has to offer. Turn your head towards the city and you’ll find scores of modern skyscrapers and multinational houses lined up along the road. The advanced technology, unique learning techniques, worldwide eminent scholars, and extensive research options are responsible for bringing in a significant percentage of international students to take up higher studies. Nevertheless, the standards of education at school level are, as well, tremendous. With one of the world’s best-educated populations, Japan enjoys 100% enrollment in compulsory grades and zero illiteracy. Compulsory education in Japan lasts for nine years for children from 6 to 14 years of age. Even though senior high school is not mandatory in Japan, but over 96% of the population seeks admission in the same. As your surf through the sections below, know about the structure of the educational system practiced in Japan.
Kindergarten (Yôchien)
Prior to elementary school, education is not mandatory for kids in Japan. However, parents send their children to kindergarten and daycare centers from under one year to up to five years. The kids are taught the basics of education and are given a brief sneak peak of the learning environment of the schools. Emphasis is high on imparting knowledge to the children, enabling them to pass the entrance exam at the elementary school upon admission.
Elementary School (Shôgakkô)
Compulsory education begins with elementary school when the child turns six years old. Elementary school comprises of six years of education until the child is twelve years old and prepared to enter lower secondary school. Standard uniforms are maintained at elementary school in Japan; hence, it is common to sight young kids wearing bright yellow baseball hats, carrying bright yellow umbrellas, and adorning bright yellow raincoats. Leaving aside 5% schools that are private, the majority of the elementary school are state run.
Lower Secondary School/Junior High School (Chûgakkô)
Lower secondary school covers three grades and is attended by students from 12-15 years of age. Academic studies are given great emphasis, as this stage of education prepares the students for upper secondary school. Lectures are the primary mode of imparting knowledge to the students, though other media, such as television and radio, and laboratory work are also included by some teachers. The curriculum largely comprises of Japanese language, social studies, mathematics, science, music, fine arts, health, and physical education.
Upper Secondary School/Senior High School (Kôtôgakkô)
Upper secondary school is not compulsory for all students and requires them to sit in the entrance exam for admission. It lasts for three years and is attended by students from 15-18 years of age. Since the educational level and subjects taught have a major impact on the future career of Japanese students, competition is highly tough to procure admission in the right senior secondary school. Academic courses are offered to students to prepare and train them for higher education to find great jobs after graduation.
Higher Education
The Japanese educational system follows the 6-3-3-4 system (6 years of elementary school, 3 years of lower secondary school, 3 years of upper secondary school, and 4 years of university), similar to the American system. However, compulsory education lasts for just 9 years, 6 in the elementary school and 3 in the junior high school. Depending upon the type of the study program, students take admission in different higher educational institutions - universities, junior colleges, colleges of technology, graduate schools, and specialized training colleges.
Universities (Daigaku)
The duration of a university is four years, comprising of undergraduate studies in various subjects. Students are required to achieve more than 124 credits within four years of study to be awarded with the bachelor’s degree and become a graduate. Some institutions offer six-year programs leading to a professional degree. Four-year colleges are segregated into national universities, local public universities, and private universities. The curriculum includes liberal arts, foreign language studies, physical education, basic studies of majoring subject, and majoring subject.
Junior Colleges
Junior colleges last for two or three years and are primarily designed for females, though male students have now started enrolling. The subjects that these institutions offer are home economics, nursing, teaching, humanities, and social sciences. Students have to build up 62 credits to complete the course and graduate with an associate degree. In case the duration of the course is 3 years, students require more than 93 credits to qualify for the same degree.
Colleges of Technology (Kôsen)
Most of these colleges are established for training highly skilled technicians in a number of fields through their five-year programs. Admission to college of technology is taken after completing junior high school for gaining knowledge of engineering and mercantile marine studies, in particular. Students, who wish enter the industry without completing graduation, seek admission in such colleges. The engineering subject offers a variety of sub-areas, such as chemical engineering, electrical and electronic engineering, civil engineering, information systems, and control technologies.
Graduate Schools (Daigaku-In)
On successful completion of a bachelor’s degree, students can pursue further studies by obtaining admission in a graduate school. A graduate school consists of master’s degree programs and PhD degree programs. A master’s degree programs lasts for two years where students have to acquire at least 30 credits and undergo comprehensive study in the major subject chosen at the time of admission. Similarly, a doctoral degree program requires the students to receive necessary research guidance, write a doctoral thesis, pass examinations, and build up at least 30 credits over three years for being conferred upon with the PhD degree.
Specialized Training Colleges (Senmon gakkou)
Specialized training colleges are two-year schools wherein students take admission after finishing senior high school. They provide training in specific skills linked with the future job market. They are segregated into eight job categorized, namely, engineering field, commerce administration field, medical field, sanitary field, liberal arts field, education/social welfare field, dressmaking/domestic science field, and agriculture field. Even though specialized training colleges enjoy less recognition than universities, students graduating from these colleges are easily absorbed by the industry. The duration for courses at these colleges is generally two years or even more.

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