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Home > Policy > White Paper, Notice, Announcement > White Paper > Japanese Government Policies in Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology 2001 >Introduction Section1.2

   Educational Reform for the 21st Century
Section 1:   Occupation and Educational Reform
2   An Ideal of the Constitution and the Fundamental Law of Education

(1) Proclamation of the Fundamental Law of Education and the School Education Law

In the process of preparing the new Constitution, the Minister of Education proposed the idea of enacting a "fundamental law concerning education," and the MESSC prepared the enactment of the Fundamental Law of Education on the basis of deliberations at the Education Renewal Committee.

  In March 1947, the 92nd session of the Imperial Diet passed the bill for the Fundamental Law of Education, and at the same time enacted the School Education Law.

  The Fundamental Law of Education declared that the "realization of the ideal (of the Constitution) should fundamentally rely on the strength of education," offering the "idea and fundamental principles of new education" in the law's 11 articles.

(2) Idea of Postwar Educational Reform

Educational reform in the postwar period, as symbolized by the Fundamental Law of Education, was described as the second educational reform, following the first educational reform in the educational system during the Meiji Restoration. The law featured the following educational goals:

{1} the idea of education seeking the "accomplishment of character building;"
{2} equal opportunities of education and equality of the sexes;
{3} a democratic and single-track school system; and
{4} free, compulsory education under the 6-3 school system.

  In order to achieve these educational goals, a draft of important education-related legislation was enacted from 1947 through 1949, including the School Education Law, Board of Education Law, Ministry of Education Establishment Law, Special Law for Education Officials, Education Personnel Certification Law, National School Establishment Law, Private School Law and Social Education Law.

(3) New School System

In the prewar period, Japan had a "double-track" school system, under which students, after finishing six years of compulsory education at "jinjo" elementary schools, chose to move on to middle schools, girls' advanced schools, vocational schools or higher elementary schools.

  The school system was reformed under the School Education Law enacted in March 1947. With various schools of secondary education reorganized and integrated into lower secondary (junior high) schools for three years and upper secondary (high) schools for another three years, Japan adopted the so-called "6-3-3-4" school system: six years in elementary school, three years in lower secondary school, three years in upper secondary school, and four years in university. In tandem with the school system reform, the period of compulsory education was extended to nine years-six years at elementary school and three years at lower secondary school-to make lower secondary education compulsory. At the same time, the so-called "single-track" school system was put into place to provide all children with a fundamentally uniform school system.

  This reform allowed all children and students to receive lower secondary education. Various schools at the stage of upper secondary education were unified into upper secondary schools, institutionally widening the opportunities to receive a higher education. Further, institutions of higher education were in principle integrated into four-year universities. Professional training colleges under the old system of education that did not convert themselves into four-year universities were, as a temporary measure, set up to be junior colleges and required a study duration lasting two to three years.

  In April 1947, it was decided that the curriculum, education content as well as how to teach and handle students would follow the standards in the Courses of Study, which was to be determined by the Minister of Education. After the Courses of Study (tentative proposal) were presented in March of the same year, the Courses of Study were prepared for each subject. They were later revised in 1951.

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