EDITORIAL: Can Proposed Integrated Primary-Middle School System Produce Educational Effect?

The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan), July 5, 2014 | Go to article overview

EDITORIAL: Can Proposed Integrated Primary-Middle School System Produce Educational Effect?


Could a review of the so-called 6-3 system that breaks compulsory education into six years of primary school and three years of middle school work to enhance education?

The Education Rebuilding Implementation Council, a government advisory panel tasked with discussing reform of the country's educational system, has put together recommendations that center on a shift toward combining primary- and middle-school-level education.

The proposed reform calls for flexible division of the nine years of compulsory education, for example, breaking them into "four, three and two years" or "five and four years" based on the judgments of each municipality.

Recent years have seen the emergence of problems due to newly entering first-year students at middle schools finding it difficult to adjust to changes in the educational environment.

In addition, some have suggested that it is more effective, in the upper levels of primary school where subjects become more difficult to understand, for teachers to be responsible for individual subjects, as in middle schools, rather than leaving most instruction to homeroom teachers.

It is sensible for the panel to pursue instruction in line with students' levels of comprehension based on the nine-year curriculum set by each municipality's education board.

Integrated primary and middle school education has been already implemented in Shinagawa Ward, Tokyo, and in some other municipalities designated by the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry. In some cases, problematic behaviors such as truancy have decreased and scholastic test results have improved.

The education ministry aims to introduce integrated primary and middle school education in fiscal 2016 at the earliest. It is essential to consider the efforts that have already been made as a reference, while moving forward with institutional design.

A host of challenges

But the challenges remaining to be addressed are many. One is finding a way to deal with cases in which students are unable to adjust to new educational environments after moving to new schools, when teaching methods and pace differ greatly in some municipalities and schools. …

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