Introduction Like a flame that sets off a fire, it has always been a thought that led to various developments in human history. These thoughts are usually moulded by the conditioning of education, becoming the lamp that has guided human path so far. Like every other civilisation Japan had understood the significance of education from quite an early time. Thus, already having a meritocratic legacy of its own, Japan was quick to recognise education as a force for modernisation.Through this assignment, I wish understand the evolving nature of the influence of education in modernising Japan . for this i would be exoloring the following themes:Evolution of “modern schools” key players in the learning culture of Japan. role of ‘human resource” in the market.
Education and modern Japanese societyAddressing recent issues in the educational system Modern school systemAs discussed by Kiaro Okano and Motonori Tsuchiya, in Education in contemporary Japan, it was radical reforms that set forth the beginning of both the ‘pre war nationalist schooling ‘(1868-1945) and ‘post war democratic education'(1945-present). While in the former period the aim of setting up modern school system was to nurture a sense of nationalism and to meet the needs of the emerging nation-state, the intentions of the latter was to ‘overhaul the existing nationalist system and to implement a well-planned ‘democratic education system’.Background – Need for modernisation1868, witnessed a political revolution in the history of Japan, when the Tokugawa shogunate opened the door to the west1 and handed over the 250 year old political power to the Emperor. The new found government of the Meiji era felt the pressure building from the colonial activities of the west in other Asian region. In order to guard themselves from these activities, the government decided to build a ‘basis for a centralised imperial state” by achieving ‘ethnic identity’ and “modernisation’.
For this purpose, they adopted the slogan “Civilization and Enlightenment”(Bunmei kaika), “Enrich the Country, Strengthen the Military” (Fukoku kyôhei). Under this, the new government introduced modern social and economic systems to Japan. Educational reforms were also included within this modernization package. A contrast to Tokugawa school SystemThe Tokugawa shogunate maintained schools in their various domains for the sons of the samurai.
2 iit was based on rigid class divisions. If the school in Kyoto for the sons of shoguante, taught how to rule, the terakoya3, the schools held in temples for commons was for equipping the children with knowledge and skills to carry on their class specific occupations. Unlike the Tokugawa school system, Meiji reforms promised education to every child, irrespective of their place of residence and class background. This was their attempt to instil a sense of ‘national identity’ and shared sense of belongingness to break away from their associations to the feudal Lords and train them for building a modern nation state.. however, one can not deny that it tokugawa schooling laid foundation for the development of the modern school system.Changing structures of the modern schoolsIn 1871, the Ministry of Education was established and in the following year, 1872, the first systematic education regulation was promulgated in the form of the Education System Ordinance (Gakusei). the syetem followed a three level structure of elementary school, middle school and university.
The central control of the schools were in the hands of ministry of education and school district mechanism4 . Under the Education System Ordinance, the plan for the establishment of schools took the following form. “The entire country was divided into eight university districts, each of these was divided into 32 middle school districts, and each of these was further divided into 210 elementary school districts. In principle, all children were required to attend to elementary school, regardless of sex, parental occupation, or social status.
“Many traditional educational institutions were transformed and incorporated into the new systems. As the following ;-‘Many Terakoya or popular learning houses for teaching reading and writing and practical skills to the commoners, became elementary schools and many Hanko (fief schools) for the samurai warrior class were transformed into local middle schools. Although the Shôhei-zaka Gakumonjo, the supreme Confucian education institution established by the shogunate government, was abolished, two other Western-style educational establishments set up during the late Edo period, the Kaisei-jo (School of Western Studies) and a medical institute, continued to exist after the Meiji Restoration and eventually developed into the University of Tokyo”.In 1872, the government invited a specialist in teacher education from the United States, to modernize the contents and methods of elementary education5 and the Tokyo Normal School was established.Reality and clash of ideologiesThe educational development plan formulated in the early years of the Meiji period was ambitious and magnificent in its scale to the extend that it became unrealistic. as a consequence the following happened-In 1879, the government, in an effort to come to terms with reality, abolished the Education System Ordinance and promulgated a new Education Order. The system of school districts was abolished, and schools were to be administered by the municipalities.
The years of schooling were also shortened and school attendance rules were relaxed.However, under this “liberal” Education Order, attendance rates worsened still further and criticism mounted, so that after only one year, in 1890, a revised Education Order was issued. Under the revised Order, central control was once again strengthened, and the school attendance requirement was strictly set at a period of three years.Around this time political situations worsened. Led by the conservatives in the imperial court an ideological was waged against the notion of westernisation and values of the modern school and emphasized the need for a restoration of morals based on traditional ethics.
In 1879, the Emperor proclaimed the Imperial Will on the Great Principles of Education (Kyôgaku taishi). In this document, emphasis was placed on Confucian ideas such as duty, loyalty and filial piety, and patriotism. In the revised Education Order of 1880, moral education (Shûshin) took on a new importance.The development and expansion of education: 1886-1945 In 1885, the cabinet system of government was introduced.
As the first Minister of Education, Mori Arinori was appointed. He was an enlightened statesman with diplomatic experience in both Great Britain and the United States. He created the basic framework of an education system, which was to become the foundation of educational development in Japan. In 1886, Mori issued four separate school orders for different parts of the educational system, namely,the Elementary School Order, the Middle School Order, the Normal School Order, and the Imperial University Order. Other institutional reforms where the followingThe University of Tokyo, was designated as an “imperial university”, which was identified as an institution with the purpose of training the elite leaders and technocrats who were to be equipped with the advanced Western knowledge and skills. The middle schools were institutions that were designated to prepare students to enter the Imperial University.
On the other hand, the elementary schools were identified as the training centres responsible for bringing up children to become loyal subjects of the Emperor. Attendance for the four years’ of ordinary elementary course was imposed as a duty on all citizens. Normal schools were identified as key institutions to inculcate all future teachers with a nationalist ideology.
Through these measures, Education Minister Mori aimed to harmonize the twin objectives of, on the one hand, modernizing Japan and, on the other hand, realizing the spiritual unity of the people by strengthening the national morals. The Imperial Rescript on Education The second objective was greatly strengthened by the proclamation of the Imperial Rescript on Education (kyôiku chokugo) in 1890. Basing its stance on ideas drawn from Confucian culture and the Japanese classics, the Rescript set out the standards of behaviour expected from the Japanese people and strongly emphasized the virtues of patriotism and loyalty to the Emperor. For the next 50 years, right up until the end of World War II, the Imperial Rescript on Education continued to have a great influence on Japanese education.
The diversification of the education system Under this, a long string further reforms where implemented. In 1893, the government issued the Vocational Supplementary School Regulations and in 1894, the Apprentice School Regulations, thereby aiming to provide an elementary industrial education. In addition, in 1899, the Vocational School Order was enacted, and applied to secondary schools for industry, agriculture, commerce, mercantile marine, and practical vocational skills. In 1903 the government issued the Professional College Order. In the 5 Professional Colleges (Senmon gakko), graduates from middle schools and girls’ high schools took specialized training courses in such disciplines as medicine, pharmacology, law, engineering, and commerce. In 1897, a second imperial university was established in Kyoto, and others followed, in 1907 in Sendai, in 1910 in Fukuoka, and elsewhere. Many more of compulsory education reforms followed till a steady improvement was observed in the school attendance. It reached a point that the rate of compulsory education had reached 99%.
thus, a modern education system had been effectively established in Japan by around 1920. The rise of ultra-nationalism and militarism In the area of educational theory and methodology, the 1910s and the 1920s saw the introduction of the ideas of John Dewey and other educationists, and the influence of the global movement known as the New Education Movement was also felt here. But as Japan moved into the 1930s, ultra-nationalist trends gradually became discernible in Japanese education policies. In 1937, with the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War, militarism became increasingly prominent, and following Japan’s entry into World War II, militarist education was strengthened, as was control over ideas and academic content. In the final stages of the war, students were mobilized to produce foodstuffs and military supplies. Teachers were also drafted into the armed forces, and children in urban areas were evacuated into rural districts to escape from air raids.
At the end of the war, in 1945, Japanese school system had been almost completely paralyzed.Post war reformsAfter its 1945 defeat in World War?, Japan was occupied by the Allied Forces. From that time to 1951, Japan was placed under the control of the General Headquarters of the Allied Forces (GHQ). Under this system, de-militarization, democratization, and the rebuilding of the country were all taken forward. In 1946, a new Constitution proclaiming pacifism and democracy was promulgated. GHQ requested the U.
S. to dispatch a United States Education Mission to Japan to examine the country’s post-war education reforms. The Education Mission arrived in March 1946 and issued a report containing a series of recommendations. The large-scale postwar reform of the Japanese education system was carried out on the basis of the recommendations of this mission.Major ReformsUnder the Fundamental law of education, enacted in 1947, framework for democratic education was implemented, replacing the pre war rescript on education.
For efficient management, laws such as the School Education Law (1947), the Board of Education Law (1948), the Social Education Law (1949), and the Private School Law (1949) were also passed. Following were the reforms introducedA shift from the pre-war, dual school system to a single track system, known as the 6-3-3-4 system. Entrance exams were introduced to be promoted to the next level along with the university entrances.the extension of compulsory education to 9 years, including primary school and lower secondary school.
The 9 years compulsory education was completed funded by the government.the co-education of boys and girls the establishment of boards of education at the prefectural and municipal levels the abolition of normal schools and the establishment of a university-based teacher training systemWith one out of 10 of every school destroyed main challenge ahead of them was reconstructing schools and making sure, every locality had schools nearby. Large amount of public spending were used for reconstruction and building of facilities especially for the sciences.
The time also witnessed slow coming up private schools, especially for upper secondary. By 1975, more than 90% of the junior high school students graduated to the high school. 12years of education became the de facto now.Education, economic growth and societyWith the reconstruction of the Japanese economy by the 1950, economic growth had accelerated. Investing heavily on the enhancement of human resources, the economy has taken of to great heights. With majority of the population attaining education, focus was shifted to the efficiency of the worker.
Providing employment and job security became important. Once a company had hired someone, they stayed with the company till the end due to availability of various perks in pay and promotion. This provided the economy the much needed stability to grow at rapid rate. Bettering of living conditions increased completion in school and universities. More private schools and cramp schools came up. However, the downhill part was these perks in employment was guaranteed to mostly people of professional courses.Learning culture in Japanese The speed at which Japan attained mass education for all is really respectable.
But an even more interesting thing is the fact that Japanese student’s are eager to learn 12 years of education whereas only 9 years are compulsory. Diligence, high motivation and compliant attitude have become hallmark of Japanese students, with exceptional skills mathematics and sciences, compared to other students of the same group around the globe. Researches have shown that its mostly to do with the time spent on studying nurtured by learning environment provided at home and school. Time spent studying in the cramp school and home has said to have shown enhancement of knowledge of what they learn from school. These students attended cramp school already seem to have above average skill in mathematics.Emotional support gained from their mothers to learn seem to raise their motivational level.
The trend seen is women taking hiatus from their careers to look after their ward’s academic life. Discussions of career and achievement and willingness to spend any amount of the cramp school and school education, makes family a perennial support for the students. Even at school constant support from the teachers make their determination sound. According to studies done dedication of the teachers to constantly review the syllabus, explore new forms of teaching seem to make them stand as pillars to the students. ConclusionLacking other resources in their country, economic success of Japan has to be attributed to their recognition of the worth of miraculous human abilities and polishing the skills of their treasured human resource through education. Japan achieved mass education for all is a feat even the western nations couldn’t accomplish at that time.
However recent issues of over competition, bullying, curriculum improvement to globe standards, adoption of new teaching technology, increasing number of foreign students, minority education is posing a challenge to education in Japan. At a time of recession, students are overburdened by high tuition fees, leading to increase in drop out rates.But, for a notion that rose to economic growth and stability from the rumbles of WWII, even these challenges won’t hopefully pose a threat.Reference Okano Kaori and Tsuchiya Motonori, Education in contemporary Japan, Cambridge University Press( 1999).
About Japan series, Education in Japan,Foreign Press Centre (2001)Education and education policy, Gesine, Falianty-JostEducation reform and experience in Japan, keynote speech , Dr. Hidenori Fujita