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a. The Middle School System as Provided for in the Education System Order

Before the time of the Education System Order, schools were not divided into elementary, middle and higher education levels as they later came to be. But institutions such as the post-Restoration fief schools, fief middle schools, prefectural middle schools, and schools for Western learning (yogakko) and other private schools were actually middle level educational institutions in nature. These schools dated from the period before the Education System Order, but in most cases they attempted to keep up with the general trend in educational reform accompanying the Meiji Restoration and also to become full-fledged modern institutions. The new Meiji government was thinking about the transformation of these institutions when the University as the government's educational administrative branch compiled the University Regulations (Daigaku Kisoku) and the Middle and Elementary School Regulations (Chushogaku Kisoku), as stated in Chapter . Following these Regulations, several fiefs and prefectures were encouraged to attempt reforms of their own educational systems. They either set up new middle schools or revamped their existing fief schools in such a way as to create an institution corresponding to the government's plan of middle school.

The provisions of the Education System Order stated that schools should be divided into three levels and that the level between the elementary school and the university should be known as the middle school level.

As stated earlier the basic academic type of middle school was to be divided into upper and lower divisions according to academic content and was described as a place where children having completed elementary school could be exposed to a more general education. The lower division of the middle school was a three year course for students from fourteen through sixteen years of age. The three years of the upper division were to accept students from seventeen through nineteen. The middle schools conformed to the school district system of the Education System Order whereby each university district was subdivided into 32 middle school districts of one school each. This accounted for a national total of 256 middle schools. Organizationally all graduates of elementary schools were eligible to enter middle schools, but, because there was only one middle school for every 210 elementary schools, the standard of selection to middle schools was naturally quite high.

The character of the middle school system was quite complex including many different types of institutions: in addition to the academic type of middle school there were various vocational middle schools and the academic type was considered to include middle schools whose faculties were made up of foreign instructors, irregular middle schools, private middle schools, etc. as well as the basic type, as stated earlier. The existence of provisions concerning these various types of institutions reflected the wide gulf between the basic concept of the Education System Order on the one hand and the social situation at that time on the other. Though the academic type of middle school was the most prominent type, the problem of creating a more coherent system remained unsolved.

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