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Home > White Paper > FY2005 White Paper on Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology > Chapter1 Part5 Progress on Educational Reform

Chapter 1 :

Part 5 Progress on Educational Reform

1.Efforts to Date toward Promoting Educational Reform

To date, MEXT has been presenting a roadmap for educational reform by such means as specific policies and timetables, and has been advancing educational reform while considering the opinions of the Central Council for Education.

  Policies and reports, (notes1) etc., related to educational reform MEXT policy
December 2000 National Council on Educational Reform final report
In March 2000, the National Council on Educational Reform Report: 17 Proposals to Change Education was submitted at the National Council on Educational Reform established under the Prime Minister. The report emphasizes the following three viewpoints: (1) education that foster Japanese people with a rich sense of humanity, (2) an education system that cultivates individual talents and fosters creative leaders, and (3) the creation of schools befitting to the new era and support of a structure to that end.
Encourage community service activities such as volunteer activities in the schools and communities, and experiential activities in a natural environment, etc.

School Education Law and Social Education Law revised in July 2001
Revise the standard for a fixed number of education personnel to enable small-group guidance and achievement-based teaching, etc., with the aim of creating an education system that cultivates individual talents.

5-year plan from FY2001 to FY2005, targeting a total of 26,900 people
Promote the graduate school admission of students who have finished their third year of university, etc.
January 2001 Education Reform Plan for the 21st Century
Based on the National Council on Educational Reform final report, then Minister Nobutaka Machimura presented in detail major policies and tasks, and timetables concerning these, as a roadmap for future educational reform.
[Priority strategies]
  Foster Academic Ability and richness in mind
Provide an enjoyable and worry-free learning environment
Create schools trusted by parents and communities
Promote volunteer and experiential activities
Train teachers as “education professionals”
Promote the establishment of world-class universities
January 2002 “Exhortation toward Learning,” the 2002 appeal for Academic Ability
On the eve of the implementation of the new Courses of Study, then Minister Atsuko Toyama presented five policies that clarify the priorities for teaching to foster Academic Ability intended by the new Courses of Study.
  (1) Detailed instructions to teach the basics and fundamentals, and the ability to learn and think independently under detailed guidance
(2) Progressive learning to further enhance children’s abilities according to their individual talents, etc.
(3) Increase willingness to learn by providing experiences that teach the joy of learning
(4) Enhance learning opportunities and helping children acquire learning habits
(5) Promote the creation of distinctive schools to ensure Academic Ability
February 2002 Modality of Future Educational Personnel Certificate System (report)
The report includes proposals on the following items: enhancing subject teaching in elementary schools, etc., encouraging the acquisition of teaching certificates for other kinds of schools by in-service teachers, tightening the grounds for invalidating and confiscating teaching certificates, establishing in-service training of teachers with 10-years of experience, and easing requirements and abolishing expiration dates for special licenses.
- Enhance the subject teacher system by introducing personnel with teaching certificates for other kinds of schools(notes2)
- System to encourage the acquisition of teaching certificates for other kinds of schools established(notes3)
- Requirements for special licenses revised etc. (July 2002)
Measures related to invalidating and confiscating licenses strengthened (January 2003)
In-service training of teachers with 10-years of experience implemented (April 2003)
February 2002 Policies to Promote Acceptance of Adult Students in Universities, etc. (report)
The report includes proposals on introducing a long-term enrollment system, institutionalizing one-year courses of professional graduate schools and correspondence doctoral courses, etc., to respond to the recent rise in demands for learning in universities, etc., among working adults.
Long-term enrollment system introduced (March 2002)
One-year courses of professional graduate schools institutionalized (March 2002)
Correspondence doctoral courses institutionalized (March 2002)
July 2002 Policies to Promote Volunteer and Experiential Activities among Youth (report)
The report outlines the significance and necessity of volunteer and experiential activities. It proposes specific policies to promote volunteer and experiential activities of children in elementary and secondary schools and people above age 18, as well as measures to provide a social mechanism and foster social momentum for such activities.
Program to Promote Volunteer and Experiential Activities in Cooperation with Communities and Schools

Commissions to the hands-on and volunteer activity support centers
  FY2002   744 communities
FY2003 1,237 communities
FY2004 1,262 communities
Program to promote community volunteer activities (April 2005)
Program to disseminate and publicize volunteer activities (April 2005)
August 2002 Building a New System to secure the Quality of Universities (report)
The report makes proposals on building a system to secure the quality of education and research at universities through such means as easing regulations on the approval system for establishing new departments and introducing a third-party evaluation system. Proposals are made from the perspective of minimizing ex ante regulations by the central government and enhancing ex post checking systems.
Introduction of notification system, limiting the coverage of establishment approval (April 2003)
Policy to limit university establishment abolished (April 2003)
New third-party evaluation system introduced (April 2004)

All public and private universities (approx. 1,200 universities) to receive evaluations on a regular basis from the relevant institution to be reflected in the future improvement
Introduction of a system of corrective measures against universities contravening law ordinances (April 2003)
August 2002 Training of Professionals with Advanced Specialized Skills in Graduate Schools (report)
The report makes proposals on creating a professional graduate school system to conduct practical training, with a view to further advancing the training of professionals with advanced specialized skills in graduate schools.
Standards for the Establishment of Professional Graduate Schools formulated (March 2003)
First professional graduate school opened (April 2003)

122 schools in FY2005 (of which 74 are law schools)
August 2002 Standards for the Establishment of Graduate Law Schools (report)
Following the judicial system reform and university reform, the report includes proposals on standards for the establishment, degrees, admission procedures that relate directly to the institutional design to make law schools as a new center for training lawyers.
Standards for the Establishment of Graduate Law Schools formulated (March 2003)
Human Resources Strategy Vision
Then Minister Toyama announced this report subtitled, From Uniformity to Independence and Creativity, that systematically outlines priority policies, including those already launched, concerning educational reform encompassing elementary, lower and upper secondary school education, with a view to cultivate talents that will forge Japan's future.
  1. Vigorous Japanese who think and act on their own initiative
2. Foster top-level talent that will lead the Century of Knowledge
3. Japanese who will inherit and create a spiritually rich culture and society
4. Educated Japanese people to live in a globalized world

  1. Foster academic abilities: the national education standard is the foundation of competitiveness
2. Foster richness in mind: a sense of ethics, sense of civic responsibility, and consideration for others
3. Cultivate top-level intellects and diverse talents: human resources to lead the world
4. University reform to lead the Century of Knowledge: create distinctive universities that stand out in competitive environments
5. Enriched emotion and a sense of fulfillment
6. Japanese people to live in the new era
September 2002 Comprehensive Measures for Improving Child Fitness (report)
Based on the analysis on the current trend and causes of declining fitness among children, the report proposes comprehensive measures for children to be more physically active and familiarize themselves with exercise to improve physical fitness, along with establishing desirable lifestyle habits.
Child Fitness Improvement Plan formulated and comprehensive measures implemented to improve child fitness through cooperation among schools, communities, and families. Such measures include a national campaign to publicize the importance of child fitness, and creation and distribution of Sports and Health Handbooks that children can use on a daily basis (April 2003)
March 2003 Modality of the New Fundamental Law of Education and Basic Promotional Plan for Education Befitting to the New Times (report)
The report outlines the areas to be reviewed for the Fundamental Law of Education befitting to the new times and proposes the basic approach to serve as a backbone to the Basic Promotional Plan for Education, with a view to advancing reform that traces the essentials of education.
Ongoing deliberations aimed at amending the Fundamental Law of Education, based on this report, and the deliberations at the Consultative Committee of the Governing Party concerning the Amendment to the Fundamental Law of Education and Investiga-tive Committee of the Governing Party concerning the Amendment to the Fundamental Law of Education continued since May 2003.
October 2003 Present Policies for Enhancing and Improving Curricula and Instructions in Elementary and Secondary Education (report)
From the viewpoint of further materializing the objectives of the new Courses of Study, the report proposes specific tasks and improvement measures, etc., based on the basic approach concerning academic abilities expected of children, among other considerations.
A part of the Courses of Study amended, such as clarifying that items not included in the Courses of Study could be taught in addition to those included, depending on the status of children (December 2003).
December 2003 Development of New Policies for Foreign Students (report)
With the prospect of achieving the objective of the Plan to Accept 100,000 Foreign Students (formulated in 1983) and against the background of the surge in the number of foreign students accompanied by the concern over their quality, the report proposes basic direction for new policies for foreign students and specific measures aimed at expanding foreign student exchanges and improving their quality.
Strengthening of support systems for foreign students, universities, etc., such as the establishment of Japan Student Services Organization (April 2004)
January 2004 Establishment of a Diet Guidance System (report)
The report makes proposals on the establishment of diet instruction structure, with the creation of a diet and nutrition teacher system as its pillar, aimed at improving child fitness and promoting health by forging desirable eating habits.
In May 2004, the Bill to amend a part of the School Education Law was enacted, and the diet and nutrition teacher system was established. Arrangements for the diet nutrition teachers were started in April 2005.
February 2004 Improving and Enhancing Pharmacological Education (report)
The report makes proposals on training pharmacologists in universities, including the extension of required duration of the pharmacological study. Considerations are made for more advanced skills required for the future pharmacologists, against the background of medical specialization and sophistication of medical technology.
Duration of study extended from four to six years for departments of pharmacology (from April 2006)
March 2004 Future School Management (report)
With a view to making school management more flexible, the report proposes basic approaches concerning a new type of public school management with participation of the community and overall commissioning of the public school management.
School Management Council System established (June 2004)
Public-Private School Corporation System established for kindergarten and upper secondary schools in special districts (October 2005)
April – September 2004 Panel to Discuss the Future of Education
In April 2004, the Panel to Discuss the Future of Education (chairman: Jiro Ushio) consisting of experts was held under then Minister Takeo Kawamura to deliberate on the modality of future of school and education and the basic directions from a broader perspective. Under the cabinet policy to advance structural reform of education, the committee conducted deliberations from the viewpoint of reforming education to bolster human resources and submitted report concerning educational reform, etc., in September 2004. The report made specific proposals based on two pillars, which were (1) to train high-quality teachers and (2) to create schools that are trusted and supported by the communities.
August 2004 Proposal for the Compulsory Education Reform
Based on the deliberations at the Panel to Discuss the Future of Education and the Central Council for Education, then Minister Kawamura presented the Proposal for the Compulsory Education Reform, which proposes the following four issues for consideration, among other items.
  (1) Clarification of compulsory education targets and increased flexibility of the system
(2) Large scale reform of teacher training
(3) School and board of education reform
(4) Clarification of the function of the central government for securing compulsory education
August 2004 Revising University Entrance Qualification System (report)
The report makes proposals on implementing the upper secondary school equivalency examination from FY2005, as well as on raising its social recognition, among other topics. The three basic approaches are (1) to maintain the function of university entrance qualification system, (2) to expand the applicability of the qualification exams, and (3) to raise social credential of the exams so as to be used for employment, etc.
Upper secondary school equivalency examination established (January 2005)

In FY2005, 23,784 people took the exam and 8,499 people passed
November 2004 “Revive, Japan!”
Based on the above-mentioned Proposal for the Compulsory Education Reform, an educational reform proposal, titled “Revive, Japan!,” was proposed in November of the same year by then Minister Nakayama, with the following five proposals to promote educational reform.
  (1) Amend the Fundamental Law of Education
(2) Specific policies to improve academic ability
(3) Improve the quality of teacher
(4) On-the-spot guidance
(5) Reform the System of National Grants for Compulsory Education

(notes1) Reports of the Central Council for Education
(notes2) Enhance the subject teacher system by introducing personnel with teaching certificates for other kinds of schools
For example, allowing a person with a lower or upper secondary school teaching certificate to teach their subject in elementary school, etc., or be in charge of teaching the Period of Integrated Study.
(notes3) A system to encourage the acquisition of teaching certificates for other kinds of schools established
For example, allowing an elementary school teacher with three years of experience to acquire a teaching certificate for lower secondary schools with alleviated requirements.
See Part 2 for the timetable of FY2005 and beyond

Figure 1-6 Organization of the Central Council for Education

2.Recent Progress of the Central Council for Education

The Central Council for Education is playing a crucial role in promoting educational reform. Below are explanations mainly on recent reports, etc., that have not been mentioned so far in this chapter.

Educational system
To ensure steady advance of educational reform along with the decentralization, it is essential to promote necessary revisions of the education administration system at each of the local governments. As such, in March 2004 the Council was consulted on the boards of education in the Era of Decentralization (See Chapter 1, Part 4-2-3).

Lifelong learning
The Council was consulted on Measures to Promote Lifelong Learning to Lead the New Era in June 2005, since which the deliberation has been continued, taking into consideration social issues such as the increased number of freeters(notes1) and NEET(notes2) and declining educational functions of families and communities. Items under deliberation include the promotion of lifelong learning activities of individual people and provision of an environment to foster unconstrained development of children in families and communities.

Elementary and secondary education
In May 2003, a comprehensive consultation was made on the Measures to Promote the Future Elementary and Secondary Education Reform, with a view to further enhancing and improving the elementary and secondary education, which is the foundation for school education, and ensuring that education develops in a way that fulfills public expectations. Deliberations were made on the modality of elementary and secondary education befitting to new era to promote concrete reforms, and the following reports were submitted.

  (1) Future of Kindergarten Education Tailored to the Changes in Environment Surrounding Children (January 28, 2005) (See Part 4-3)
(2) Redesigning Compulsory Education for a New Era (October 26, 2005) (See Part 4-2-3)
(3) Future Visions for Special Support Education (December 8, 2005) (See Part 4-3)

In addition, the Subcommittee on Curriculum, which has been advancing deliberations to revise entire Courses of Study since February 2005, has compiled an interim report in February 2006 that outlines the progress of deliberations to date (See Part 4-3).

Furthermore, from the viewpoint that it is essential for teachers to have a respected and trusted presence among citizens and society, the Council was consulted on Future Educational Personnel Training and Certificate System in October 2004 to deliberate on the modality of professional graduate schools for teacher training, teaching certificate system reform, and especially the introduction of a teacher certification renewal system. An interim report was submitted in December 2005, and deliberations have been continued for the ongoing report (See Part 4-3).

Higher education
With a view to advance concrete reforms, the Council was consulted in April 2001 on Measures for the Promotion of Higher Education Reform in the Future concerning the following matters: (1) modality of the higher education system as a whole encompassing junior college, colleges of technology, and graduate schools, (2) desirable establishment approvals for universities, etc., and the scope of the future higher education, (3) development of new forms of graduate schools, etc., that also take into account the connection to professional qualification. Comprehensive deliberations were made to advance educational reform, and after January 2005, two reports were submitted (details in the following paragraph). Hereafter, the Council will deliberate on specific issues such as securing the quality of higher education and developing university education from the students’ viewpoint.

1) A Vision for the Future of Higher Education in Japan (January 28, 2005)
Considering the relation of higher education and society in the age of a “knowledge-based society,” the report makes proposals on medium- to long-term future models of “higher education as a whole,” “Modality of Higher Education Institutions,” and “Roles of Society toward the Development of Higher Education,” as well as policies to be embraced for these models. Following this report, the following revisions were made to the system: academic degrees to junior college graduates (October 2005), restructuring of university faculty organizations (establishment of associate professors and assistant professors, etc.) (April 2007), revised methods for calculating colleges of technology credits (September 2005), and granting graduate school entrance qualifications for people who have completed a four-year program in a professional training college (September 2005).

2) Graduate School Education in the New Age: Towards the Development of Internationally Attractive Graduate School Education (September 5, 2005)
The report points out the necessity of further raising education and research functions of graduate schools to global standards. Proposals were made regarding “substantiation of graduate school education” through enhanced structural aspects of education programs and on the “improvement of International Validity Reliability” through the establishment of graduate school evaluations and the support to global education and research centers in their formation. Efforts are being made toward formulating the plan called Platform to Promote Graduate School Education, among other measures.

Sports and youth
For youths to grow as independent individuals, the urgent task is to increase motivation that drives action. As such the Council was consulted on Policies to Increase Motivation among Youths and Foster Balanced Development of Mind and Body in June 2005. Deliberations are underway, upon examining the situation and background concerning the motivation among youths.
(notes1) Freeter
People of age 15 to 34, who in addition to having graduated schools and are unmarried (women) fall into either of the following categories: (1) currently employed, whose status of employment is either “albeit” or “part-time,or (2) currently unemployed, who neither work domestically nor attend school and desire to take “albeit” or “part time” jobs. There are 2,130,000 freeters as of 2004. (Source: White Paper on the Labour Economy 2005)
(notes2) NEET
An acronym for Not in Education, Employment, or Training. The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) tallied the number of unemployed youths, a concept similar to NEET covering people of ages 15 to 34 not in the labor force who neither work domestically nor attend school. There were 400,000 unemployed youths in 1993, and the number increased to 640,000 in 2004. (Source: White Paper on the Labour Economy 2005)

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