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Education Policy in Japan

Building Bridges towards 2030

image of Education Policy in Japan

Japan’s education system is one of the top performers compared to other OECD countries. International assessments have not only demonstrated students' and adults' high level of achievement, but also the fact that socio-economic status has little bearing on academic results. In a nutshell, Japan combines excellence with equity.



This high performance is based on the priority Japan places on education and on its holistic model of education, which is delivered by highly qualified teachers and supported by the external collaboration of communities and parents. But significant economic, socio-demographic and educational challenges, such as child well-being, teacher workload and the high stakes university exam, question the sustainability of this successful model.



Policy makers in Japan are not complacent, and as Japan starts implementing its Third Basic Plan for the Promotion of Education (2018-22), they are carefully analysing tomorrow’s threats to Japan’s current success.



This report aims to highlight the many strengths of Japan’s education system, as well as the challenges it must address to carry out reforms effectively and preserve its holistic model of education. The ultimate goal is to ensure that the education system delivers the best for all students, and that Japanese learners have the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values they need for the 21st century.

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Into the future: Preserving holistic education and school-community relationships

This chapter analyses Japan’s unique system of holistic education and explores ways to sustain it to both support curriculum reform and respond to challenges in the areas of socio-demographic change, student well-being and teacher workload. Japan has targeted efforts in the area of school management and school-community partnerships to support its holistic approach, in which schools engage students in practices such as serving lunch, working together to clean their school or providing extracurricular activities. International evidence points to the role school-community partnerships and effective management structures and leadership can play in enhancing school outcomes, but it also points to potential inequalities when such additional services are not supported for the more disadvantaged. To effectively sustain the holistic model, Japan should enhance school organisation by ensuring effective school management teams and leadership and should clarify the focus of school-community partnerships. To prevent and mitigate potential inequalities, Japan should support partnerships with disadvantaged communities as an alternative to shadow education.

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