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Reform of Compulsory Education

 Education is the foundation for the existence of society and it is no exaggeration to say that Japan's future success depends on it. In particular, compulsory education has the two objectives of 1) fostering the next generation which will be responsible for forming the nation and society and 2) building a foundation to enable each individual child to live a happy life, and it forms the foundation for all education.

 In recent years, foreign nations have been putting their national destiny on the line and promoting educational reform. It is necessary for Japan also to open up a new era and aim to foster spiritually rich and strong Japanese people, and, as a national strategy, to promote educational reform.

 In November 2004 Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Nariaki Nakayama announced an educational reform plan entitled "Japan! Rise again!" The plan proposes the objective of "education that encourages children who do their best" and aims at education that will raise children who engage in friendly rivalry and have the "spirit of challenge." The plan presents five specific proposals. These are, firstly, "Amendment of the Fundamental Law of Education," the law that forms the basis of all education-related laws; secondly, "Improvement of Academic Ability" through the implementation of nationwide academic ability surveys and other measures; thirdly, "Improvement of the Quality of Teachers" through the establishment of professional graduate schools, and the teacher qualification renewal system, etc.; fourthly, school and board of education reform from the perspective of "placing importance on education on the ground;" and fifthly, "Reform of the system of national treasury's share of compulsory education expenses" carried out on the assumption that the national government must guarantee that the local governments can utilize their ingenuity to carry out a diverse range of measures without worrying about funding.

 The Central Council for Education, an advisory body to the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, is advancing wide-ranging and urgent studies on these compulsory education reform proposals. These studies are to be completed by autumn 2005.

 MEXT is strongly advancing these reforms and by so doing is steadily fulfilling its responsibility for the compulsory education of Japan and aiming to realize better compulsory education that utilizes the ingenuity of local governments and schools and meets the expectations of guardians and local communities.

(Elementary and Secondary Education Planning Division, Elementary and Secondary Education Bureau)

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