Elementary schools in Japan are called 'Shōgakkō'. The country boasts of 100% literacy, and rightly so, with almost all the established elementary school aged children enrolled. Education in Japan begins at the tender age of six. Much importance is attached to the enrolling and the initial use of books and stationery. Japan imparts knowledge to its young ones via established public schools. There are private schools too, but they are costly and though prestigious, help students graduate onto higher-level private schools affiliated, and finally universities, and hence, the cost factor ripples on. Nevertheless, just like in any other part of the world today, there is stiff competition to enroll in these schools.
Public elementary education in Japan is free. However, there are some school expenses that are borne by parents. These include snack expenses, extra supplies like extra books, and tuition fees for private lessons. Such expenses, in the case of private elementary schools, are substantially higher. In elementary schools, the classrooms are large enough to accommodate about thirty students per class. There is no restriction on the student number though. The class is broken up into small work groups, and they alternatively handle academic and disciplinary functions.
Japanese schools stress on the importance of discipline in student life. Students are encouraged to shoulder a sense of responsibility from the very beginning. The student monitors assume responsibility for overall class turnout and classroom décor. The responsibility of the maintenance, beyond the board and management, rests on all the students on roll. Children learn a variety of subjects, academic and non-academic. In the latter category, they are given value education to inculcate moral values and a chance to indulge in preparation for the different school activities and ceremonies. These activities are designed and scheduled around character, personality development, and teamwork.
The curriculum in Japanese schools include language, math, science, and social studies. These are balanced within the classroom, with subjects like art, music, home-science, and physical education. Moral education is a very important component of education in Japan, with the Japanese language being the most stressed upon subject. The language is not only distinctly different from any other language, but complex in application too. The complexity of the script and the diversity of the oral form requires an early education.
Education Reform in Japan
The education reform movement established in the 1980s reviewed the then existent curriculum. The important changes that came about because of the reform movement included increased number of hours to learn the Japanese language well, and the replacement of social sciences with designed courses on social ethics and environmental education. The reform implemented ways and means to teach children how to effectively interact in society, and increased emphasis on moral education. Renewed emphasis was given to the importance of the symbols unique to the nation, and the nation's pride like the national flag and anthem.
Teachers in Japanese Schools
Teachers propel children to participate in school ceremonies, ensuring correct understanding of the subjects within the curriculum. They are infused with the responsibility of emphasizing on cultural legacies and biographies of key figures in Japanese history. Elementary teachers are responsible for all subjects, and remain within their classroom for most activities. Most teachers are women; however, most heads of faculties and principals are men.
System of Imparting Education in Japan
Most elementary schools in Japan utilize and optimize the television and radio. Classroom and graded programs are prepared and presented as per the rules laid down by the School Education Division. All institutes in Japan are well-equipped with computers. Students at the elementary level receive a well-planned and balanced lunch, which is subsidized by the government, but not entirely free. Meals are had in the classroom, with the teacher imparting information on nutrition and good eating habits. Students not only serve lunch, but clean up, too!