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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Equal Education in Japan

While education is suppose to be equal for all, only a handful of people will actually have a chance to get a decent education! In America, the land where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, education does correlate with the money you have in your pocket. Rich students attend schools with the best facilities and staff to help them succeed, while the poorer students attend schools shoddy facilities, ancient textbooks, and barely one guidance counselors. Not just the finance, but the economic backgrounds could determine the quality of education that you will receive for almost the rest of your life.

Japan is completely different from that. Finance and economic background doesn't mean anything to Japanese schools. "In Japan, you may have poor areas, but it doesn't mean there are poor schools." said John Mock, and anthropologist at Temple University's Japan campus. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OCED), Japan ranks highly among all wealthy countries in providing all students regardless of wealth with equal educational opportunities. OCED estimated Japan to only 9 percent of the variation in student performance, beating the average for all wealthy countries (14 percent) and the United States (17 percent).

Japanese has fewer students struggling academically and dropping out of school, with the country's high-school graduation rate of almost 97% compared to United States with 83%. Plus, poorer children would end up with successful lives in adulthood compared to Western countries such as United States and Britain. Those were the results after the 2011 Earthquake and the Fukushima nuclear-power-plant disaster.

New Orleans has the same scenario with Hurricane Katrina in late August 2005. While Japan's national government ensured that students in the affected areas get more resources, New Orleans public school system had done nothing to help the students. Teachers were put on leave, many students disappeared from schools' rolls, and the New Orleans system is now mostly charter schools.

While Japan does have many successes, it does have some challenges. Bullying is their biggest concern in schools. Students that are struggling academically are linked to bullying until they earn better grades. Students would become more pressured when attending school, which would lead to depression and even suicide. Their second biggest concern is the teachers overworking. Japanese teachers feel responsible for all students in their classes, often spend more time with students that are struggling and falling behind. There are teachers that stayed from 7am to 7:30pm, even until 9pm.

Despite the flaws, Japan does show an example that all students are equal. The reason is their goals are completely different from American school system. Directing more resources and better teachers to schools or students that are struggling, and giving teachers more freedom to work together improving schools.

That being said, Japan conquers academics!!

Kudos Japan,
Jay Nakamura