Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Dialogue with the UK Dept. for Education - 2

And below is my reply to the UK Dept. for Education.
Thank you very much for your reply and information.
I am very glad to have the opportunity to communicate with you.
One of my purposes for writing the article as well as the book is to raise the awareness of juku in Japan. And thanks to the Schools Improvement Net, shadow education in Asian countries has been recognized to some extent. The other day Welsh government also kindly sent me a thank-you letter for informing of the article.
 Let me take this opportunity to add a comment mainly on the OECD report.
As you mentioned, OECD report in 2012 says that the evidence of the benefits and drawbacks of “juku” is mixed. This neutral remark probably sounds very kind to those juku practitioners who know the past history of criticism and hate speeches against them.  And another OECD report gives, despite its overall negative tone, a more favourable comment, saying that “The juku are succeeding in ways that the schools are not”. (Education reform in Japan, Economics Department Working Papers No.888 OECD Library P16)
However, these remarks still fall short in reflecting the reality that students and parents are facing. Actually it is taken for granted that shadow education is outperforming schools in Japan. For example, one rare survey by the Japanese government in 2005 revealed that 70.1% of the polled parents considered juku instructors better than the school teachers at improving the students’ academic ability, while only 4.3 percent of them thought that the school teachers were better.
(<http://www8.cao.go.jp/kisei-kaikaku/old/publication/2005/1007_02/item051007_02_01.pdf> P13 the site is only in Japanese).
And recently a major Japanese news paper reported that juku companies are engaged in teaching job in schools.
(<http://www.asahi.com/articles/ASFDZ4PR1FDZUTIL00R.html>  only in Japanese again, sorry)
However, it is not easy for international organizations to recognize this kind of reality as far as the country’s official educators are reluctant to pay attention to the excellence of shadow education and the deterioration of schools. It seems to me that the above OECD reports are manifestation of the confusion caused by the lack of information. Balanced observation of the real situation can change the opinion of the OECD officials or researchers with regards to what should be reconsidered in order to improve the academic ability of students and to prevent the perpetuation of socio-economic inequality.
Speaking briefly, juku industry initially emerged to cater to the strong demand for the academic credentials in post-war period, and it still enjoys popularity even in the age of low birth rate owing to its ability on one hand and the poor performance of schools on the other. Thus juku industry has acquired competitiveness by adapting to changing market conditions, and now it is surviving the information age, which should have direct impact on the learning in general.
Although I don’t know what is really going on in shadow education in other countries and am not familiar with the educational situation in your country, I suppose it is worth sharing the experience of juku phenomenon if a country sees some of the above conditions. 

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