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Part2 Educational Reform Q&A
Q17: Are children who failed to get a compulsory education due to illness,non-attendance,or other reason unable to apply for admission to upper secondary schools?

A: Any child who passes the Lower SecondarySchool Equivalency Examination can applyfor admission to an upper secondary school.

In Japan,elementary and lower secondary school education is compulsory.The Constitu-tion of Japan states that,"All people shall have the right to receive an equal education corre-spondent to their ability."That each member of the population can achieve growth with good balance of knowledge,morals and physical health and learn the fundamentals for leading a social life,and as a member of the nation and society acquire necessary standards and capa-bilities,is necessary in any generation.To this end,it is a requirement for parents and guardians to send their children to elementary and lower secondary school.However,in cases which are unavoidable,such as illness,it is possible to postpone com-pulsory education,or gain exemption.In addi-tion,there are other cases where students are not attending school without gaining postponement of compulsory education,or exemption..In such circumstances and for the sake of students who are unable to graduate from lower secondary school,the Lower Secondary School Equivalency Examination system was estab-lished.If someone passes this exam,they are provided with the necessary qualification to apply to an upper secondary school,without having graduated from lower secondary school.The Lower Secondary School Equivalency Examination takes place every year in Novem-ber.There are five examined subjects-Japane-se language,Social Studies,Mathematics,Science and Foreign Languages.In the case of the above-mentioned unavoidable circumstances a path has now been opened,whereby students who are15years of age or older in March of the following year can take the Lower Secondary School Equivalency Examination.If they pass,they can progress with their fellow pupils on to upper secondary school without delay.From1999,this qualification to take the Lower Sec-ondary School Equivalency Examination has been widened to include such people as those who do not hold Japanese nationality.

Qualification for Taking the Lower Secondary School Equivalency Examination

The following people are eligible to take the Lower Secondary School Equivalency Examinatiorx.

1) Persons who,through unavoidable circumstances,have postponed or been exempted frorncompulsory education and will be15years of age or older in March of the following year.
2) Persons who,through unavoidable circumstances,have been unable to attend school and whowill be15years of age or older in March of the following year.
3) Those persons who will be16or more years of age in March of the following year.
4) People who do not hold Japanese nationality and will be15years of age or older in March ofthe following year.

Note:In the case of2),proof issued by the board of education of the relevant city,town or village that circumstances really were unavoidable is required.

Elementary Schools in the Meiji Era

At the beginning of the Meiji Era,in thewake of the fall of the Edo bakufu govern-ment,"schools"were built in regions,but asthese were constructed by each individualhan or regional government,their numbersand content of education differed from regionto region.

Due to this fact,the Meiji government,wanting to enable everyone to enjoy a mini-mum level of education,instituted the"school system"in1872.This"school sys-tem"formed the basis for the schooling sys-tem in Japan and from1879to1907theelementary school system was reformed atotal of seven times.

Through this systemic reform process,theeight-year period of compulsory educationwas reduced to four years on the grounds toforce children who were a valued part of thework force at the time to study for eight yearsproved not to suit the social circumstances ofthe time.The period was reduced to six years,once the school attendance rate had increased.In addition,initially there were tuition fees topay for compulsory education,but in thereform of1900,tuition fees were abolishedand compulsory education made free of char-ge in principle.In the early years of the sys-tem,the grade promotion examinations werevery severe and resulted in many failed stu-dents remaining in the lower grades.Becauseof this tendency arose the problem in whichchildren who had failed the examination werenot attending school.In1900the grade pro-motion examination was abolished.

In this way,through tireless educationreform and the increase in towns and villagesfunding through town and village consolida-tion,together with industrial development,the use of the old terakoya schools,and es-tablishing night schools for those childrenwho were serving apprenticeships andschools for children who lived on the water,the initially low school attendance rate hadrisen to98%by the end of tbe Meiji Period in1912.

On the other hand,from the mid-1880sschool excursions had come to take place,and from the mid-Meiji Period,sports meetsand school exhibitions had come to takeplace in every school.In those days,schoolsalso played the role of today's LifelongLearning Centers in the community.

Student school attendance rate in the Meiji Period

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