While the Japanese School System has been in existence long before, the western forms of primary, secondary schools and universities were introduced into Japan in 1872 as a result of the Meiji Restoration.
Since 1947, compulsory education in Japan consists of students first attending Elementary school and then Middle school, following which almost all children continue their education at a three-year senior High school and High school graduates may have the option of attending a university, junior college or trade school if they wish.
Almost every school in Japan has its own playground, gymnasium and swimming pool. Private academies such as Mahora also incorporate student housing (dormitories) and health care facilities.
Classes average anywhere from thirty to forty-five students per class, with students staying in their homeroom groups throughout the day as teachers move from class to class as the course study requires.
Breaks between classes and lunch allow the students social time. At the end of each school day, all student participate in o soji (basic housekeeping). As well as maintaining their classroom, they are responsible for the state of the halls, restrooms and school grounds.
The school year begins in April 1st and ends March 31st. Established on a trimester system with vacation breaks between each trimester. The first trimester begins on April 1st and continues until July. The second trimester runs from September to December and the third covers January to March 31st.
The Japanese school year is two months longer than the average school years in the United States while on top of this students also have to prepare and participate in several annual school festivals, athletic meets, ceremonies and events. In the past, Japanese students had to also attend school for half a day on Saturdays.
- According to the Programme for International Student Assessment, in 2006, knowledge and skills of Japanese 15-year-olds are ranked as the 6th best in the world.
- Japan’s education is very competitive, especially for entrance to institutions of higher education. As such various entrance exams are put in place to deduct which students are more suitable to attend which university.
- In terms of ages, Elementary school starts at grade 1 to 6 (ages 6-10), Middle schools cover grades 7 to 9 (age 13-15), and High schools cover grades 10 to 12 (ages 16-18).
- After-school clubs meet for about two hours each day. While these clubs usually have a teacher or advisor assigned to them, it is the students who determine the daily schedules and activities. Each school can have a variety of clubs ranging from the practical (sports, class-room oriented) to the mundane (anime fangroups) and traditional (tea ceremonies, origami) all created and run by the student body.