b. The Establishment of a Policy for Compulsory Education

From the time of the Education System Order until the Education Orders, there was no system for the strict enforcement and realization of compulsory education. According to the Education System Order, children were expected to attend elementary school throughout the eight-year school age and sending children to school was something that parents ought to keep their mind on; in the 1879 Education Order, the 1880 Education Order and the 1885 Education Order it was defined is a "responsibility" of parents and guardians to send their children to school for the respective minimum periods specified by these Orders, but this "responsibility" was not regarded as a strictly legal responsibility. In contrast, it was specified in Article 3 of the 1886 Elementary School Order that "in the case of children of the eight years of school age from six to fourteen years, the parents and guardians of such children have the obligation to see that their children receive general education." Not only was the term "obligation" used here for the first time, but, in Article 4 of the Order, parents and guardians were asked to send their school age children to school until they graduated from the ordinary elementary course, and thus compulsory education was established. (But the Order had not specified the length of ordinary elementary course; it was defined as four years by Subjects and Their Standards for Elementary Schools, as stated above.) However, rather than insisting on the strict implementation of this system, there was written into Article 5 of the Order a provision for a grace period. In other words, in cases where it was recognized that it would be impossible to send children to school due to sickness, poverty, or other unavoidable circumstances, the prefectural governors could permit the postponement of compulsory education. But for cases other than the specified exceptions, it was possible to force parents and guardians to send their children to school.

It may be said that these provisions constituted the first system for strict compulsory education.


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((C)COPYRIGHT Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology)

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