6 Reforms in Vocational Education

By taking advantage of the situation which existed during World War I, Japan was able to make enormous strides in the development of its industrial potential especially in the field of engineering. Production in that field rose markedly with the chief emphasis on light industry, but with the completion of this ground work there was a gradual shift toward heavy industry. Against this background of industrialization there occurred a rapid development in the field of vocational education.

Table 4-3 provides details on the number of vocational schools (including branch schools) and total enrollment for four-year intervals between 1917 and 1933, as well as for 1936. The number of schools during these nineteen years rose from 590 to 1304 and total enrollment quadrupled.

Table 4-3. Number of Schools and Students in Vocational Schools

Table 4-3. Number of Schools and Students in Vocational Schools

On December 16, 1920, a revision of the Vocational School Order was promulgated, which came into force on April 1, 1921. The most important point of the revision is to be found in Article 1 on alms where the cultivation of moral character was added and such public organizations as agricultural associations (nokai) were officially recognized as appropriate establishing bodies for vocational schools in addition to formerly approved chambers of commerce. In January, 1921, Regulations concerning Vocational Schools with Two or More Vocational Courses were issued, which came into force in April of that year. By virtue of these Regulations it was made possible that one institution would offer two or more vocational courses. In addition, the regulations concerning each type of the existing vocational schools were revised: such new regulations as the 1921 Technical School Regulations, the 1921 Agricultural School Regulations, the 1921 Commercial School Regulations, the 1923 Merchant Marine School Regulations, and the 1923 Fisheries School Regulations were issued during the period from 1921 to 1923 replacing the older regulations. Accordingly, the apprentice school was absorbed into the system of technical school while for other types of schools the distinction of the names between categories A and B of schools was dropped.

The Trade School Regulations were issued in January, 1921, and put in force in April of that year and a curriculum which reflected the social situation was instituted. The entrance requirement stipulated graduation from an ordinary elementary school and the length of the course was from two to four years. The curriculum offered such subjects as sewing, handicrafts, culinary art, photography, bookkeeping, business correspondence and others.

In view of the social changes which occurred in Japan during the late twenties, vocational training was increasingly obliged to meet the demands of an industrial society. In this connection, the government shifted its policy from an emphasis on a standardized curriculum to one of specially tailored courses to fit the needs of specific localities. In April, 1930, revisions of regulations concerning several types of vocational schools were issued, which came into force at the same time. Thus, by virtue of revisions of the 1921 Technical School Regulations, the 1921 Agricultural School Regulations, the 1921 Commercial School Regulations, and the 1923 Fisheries School Regulations, a shorter two-year course admitting ordinary elementary school graduates was added to the existing three- to five-year courses for ordinary elementary school graduates and two- or three-year courses for higher elementary school graduates. The weekly subject hours for vocational schools were shortened with classroom lectures being restricted to the morning hours and the afternoons devoted to practical application. Eventually long-term courses for the practical application subject were also introduced in the lower grades, A one-year second track in the technical, agricultural, and fisheries schools was also instituted for middle school and girls' high school graduates, in addition to that track which came into being earlier, in 1914, according to a revision of the 1899 Commercial School Regulations in that year.

During the Taisho era, the desire to continue one's education became a national phenomenon. Turning to the vocational specialized schools, we note in particular the rapid growth in the following institutions. First of all, in the field of agriculture, in addition to the previously established higher agriculture and forestry schools at Morioka and Kagoshima, and higher sericulture schools at Ueda (in Nagano), Tokyo and Kyoto, five new institutions were set up between 1920 and 1924, and by 1935 there were thirteen schools in this field. In the technical field, Kiryu Higher Textile Dyeing and Weaving School was founded in 1915 resulting in a total of eight government vocational specialized schools at that time. However, over the next years in accord with the six-year plan for the establishment of government higher educational institutions and the expansion of their facilities, the number of these government vocational specialized schools increased. Thus by the end of 1924 there were twenty government schools specializing in the technical field alone, and considering all the categories of fields and establishing bodies there was an increase in the number of vocational specialized schools from 22 in 1915 to sixty by 1935. This growth had a very positive and deep significance for the development of modern industry in Japan.

Vocational supplementary education demonstrated remarkable quantitative development during the late Meiji era such that by 1910 there were 6,111 schools with an enrollment of 262,978 students. Two years later there were 7,386 schools with an enrollment of 346,767 students. This tendency toward growth persisted until after World War I. By 1920 there were 14,232 schools with 996,090 students but among all the various types of vocational supplementary schools, those specializing in agriculture showed the most remarkable growth while those institutions specializing in technical courses lagged behind. The ratio of boys to girls in 1920 was 4.4 to one but the difference narrowed thereafter such that the proportion was roughly two to one by 1934. From these figures we can see that the chief source of students for these schools was young men from farming communities.

The 1920 Vocational Supplementary School Regulations were issued in December, 1920, which came into force in April, 1921. In Article 1 of the new Regulations, it was stated that these schools should provide an education consisting of a knowledge of vocational training as well as fundamental duties of the members of the Japanese nation for those persons who, having completed elementary education, intend to engage in a trade. The important shift in emphasis here is from the concept of supplemental elementary education to full-time studies in vocational training and national duties. Along with this there was a much fuller explanation of just how such training should be accomplished. The course was divided into lower and upper divisions consisting of two and two to three years' terms each, which admitted ordinary and higher elementary school graduates respectively. Subjects for each stage of instruction were clearly defined, and the hours and curriculum were also standardized.

The Youth Training Center Order was promulgated on April 20, 1926, and a system of youth training centers was set up for young men between the ages of sixteen and twenty. This program was directed toward the age group that followed the vocational supplementary school students. In July, 1929, the Social Education Bureau was set up within the Ministry of Education and this Bureau assumed the charge of both the vocational supplementary school and the youth training center. The vocational supplementary schools and the youth training centers were nearly identical in their objectives (except for the teaching of the military drill subject at the latter), facilities and teachers, and this duplication was criticized as resulting in complicated financial and other formalities on the part of local communities. Thus a new plan for a system of youth education was submitted for discussion in January, 1934, to the Educational and Cultural Policy Council and the 1935 Youth School Order was promulgated on April 1, 1935, and put in force on that day.


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