High school education reform must help students prepare for the future

The Yomiuri ShimbunThere is no denying that education reform for high school has lagged behind that for elementary, junior high school and university.

It is imperative to examine anew how high schools should be and enrich education to make it conducive to the positive futures of students who have strong growth potential.

The government’s Education Rebuilding Implementation Council has launched discussions on high school reform. The panel will compile its recommendations next year.

The percentage of junior high school students advancing to high schools has topped 98 percent, and 70 percent of high school students are enrolled in the general course. The situation has an aspect of high schools stopping short of meeting students’ diversified interests and hopes for after graduation. The comprehensive course, in which students also learn about vocations, was inaugurated slightly more than 20 years ago, but the number of students enrolled in the course has hovered around 5 percent.

As for the content of education in the general course, which tends to be uniform, isn’t it necessary to carry out a review in keeping with the times?

Not only in specialized courses, such as industrial and commercial ones, but also in the general course, it is imperative to upgrade and expand the range of lessons that help students broaden their horizons and choose future vocations.

Of note is that there has been a spreading trend of high schools and the communities where they exist developing closer ties.

In Nagano Prefecture, high schools, in cooperation with businesses and universities, provide students with opportunities to learn about local industries and local issues, have workplace experiences and take lessons on merchandise development. The initiative has had the effect of boosting the rate of students joining firms in the prefecture.

Improve education content

The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry plans to proceed with promotion projects using high schools as activity centers mainly in local areas where population decline has been progressing. The projects will cover about 50 high schools that conduct regional research and provide practical vocational education.

The experience of associating with adults working for local companies and thinking about contributions to their hometowns during their high school days could be useful, even for students who go out for now to other prefectures to study at universities or other higher educational institutions.

Needless to say, it is essential to raise the overall level of high school students’ fundamental scholastic abilities. There are some students who never sit at a desk outside of classroom hours and do not retain even what they were taught at junior high school.

A system known as the basic diagnosis of learning was introduced this fiscal year. Under the system, the education ministry recognized tests that were developed by private entities that can be used on a voluntary basis by individual high schools. The schools are called on to utilize the system for assessing the actual situation of students’ scholastic abilities and improving instruction methods. The system to assist truant and dropout students in remedial learning should be bolstered, too.

At high schools centered on preparing students to enter prestigious universities, it is pointed out that teaching leans toward making students succeed in entrance exams, so the education of developing their thinking abilities and power of expression is lacking. It is indispensable to enhance the quality of lessons at high schools that are aimed at providing advanced science education and cultivating human resources capable of acting globally.

In the United States, there is a system under which university-level lessons can be learned at high school. The system is believed to contribute to students improving their scholastic abilities after entering universities. It is worth considering also adopting it in Japan.

The content of education at high school depends largely on the discretion of individual local governments and schools. It is essential to increase the number of attractive high schools capable of meeting local needs and students’ current conditions.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 15, 2018)Speech


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