Q12: I understand that the Courses of Study have been revised and educational content significantly changed in the move toward the comprehensive five-day school week.What are the targets and specific details of this latest revision?
A:With the basic aims to develop a distinctive education in a liberal,flexible and comfortable school life,have children acquire an enriched sense of humanity and afirm grounding and basis in education,encourage individuality and foster a zest for living involving children thinking and learning for themselves,under the comprehensive five-day school week,due to be implemented in2002,specific improvements have been made in the content of education focusing on the four policies below.
We will foster a rich sense of humanity,so-ciability and the self-awareness of the Ja-panese people living in the internationalcommunity by means of the following meas-ures:
Reinforcement of kindergarten and early ele-mentary school instruction of basic lifestyle ha-bits and determining what is right and wrong;
Enhancement of hands-on activities such asmoral education and special activities includ-ing volunteer activities and outdoor activities;
Promotion of interaction with young childrenand students with disabilities and elder mem-bers of the community;
Improvement the teaching of history by fo-cusing on historical figures and cultural heri-tage in elementary school social studiesclasses,and by grasping the mainstream ofhistory in lower secondary school socialstudies classes( See Q54 );and
To make the subject Foreign Languages,which focuses on the development of listeningand spoken skills,compulsory in lower andupper secondary schools( See Q53 ).
We will cultivate the ability to study and thinkfor oneself by means of the following meas-ures:
Enhancement of hands-on and problem-solving learning in various subject areas andin Periods of Integrated Study( See Q13 );
Prioritization of the developrnent of intellec-tual curiosity and an inquiring mind,as wellas the ability to think logically and to expressoneself,in various subject areas;and
To make information-related content compul-sory in lower secondary school Technical Artsand Home Economics,classes and institution-alize the subject Information in upper secon-dary schools.We will also establish the sub-ject Information as an elective subject in theupper secondary departments of schools forthe intellectually disabled( See Q57 , Q58 ).
We will promote education which encour-ages individuality and fosters basic abilitiesand skills through the development of edu-cational activities in a liberal flexible andcomfortable school life.For example:
Reduction of the present number of classhours by two periods per week;
Fostering basic abilities and skills throughlearning in a liberal,flexible and comfortablesocial life by carefully selecting and con-densing the educational content for elemen-tary and lower secondary schools in line withthe reduction in class hours( See Q14 );and
Expansion of the range of elective subjects inlower and upper secondary schools.
We will enable each school to utilize originalideas for advancement of distinctive educa-tion and the development of distinctiveschools.For example:
Introduction of the Period of Integrated Studyinto the curriculum for the development ofeducational activities in which each schooluses original ideas( See Q13 );
Enabling each school to reorganize theirtimetables according to their own originalideas,such as conducting English lessons for25 minutes everyday,concentrating computerlessons into a set time period,and so on.
Schedule for Implementation
The new Courses of Study will be fully implemented in FY2000 for kindergartens and in FY2002 for elementary and lower secondary schools.They will be implemented in accordance with the advancement of the school year in upper secondary schools in FY2003,and Courses of Study at schools for the blind,deaf and otherwise disabled will be implemented in line with the stage of implementation at kindergartens,elementary schools,and lower and upper secondary schools.Furthermore,so that schools are able to put into effect the framework of the new Courses of Study as quickly as possible,special measures will be implemented from FY2000 until the time when the new Courses of Study are applied.
The schedule of implementation for the new curriculum