Even though upper-secondary school is not compulsory in
94 percent of all lower-secondary school graduates entered
uppersecondary schools in 1989. Private upper-secondary schools
for about 24 percent of all upper-secondary schools, and
public nor private schools are free. The Ministry of
estimated that annual family expenses for the education of
in a public upper-secondary school were about ¥300,000
in both 1986 and 1987 and that private upper-secondary
about twice as expensive.
All upper-secondary schools, public and private, are
ranked, based on their success in placing graduates in
classes of the most prestigious universities. In the
upper-secondary schools occupied the highest levels of
hierarchy, and there was substantial pressure to do well
examinations that determined the upper-secondary school a
entered. Admission also depends on the scholastic record
performance evaluation from lower-secondary school, but
examination results largely determine school entrance.
closely counseled in lower-secondary school, so that they
relatively assured of a place in the schools to which they
The most common type of upper-secondary schools has a
fulltime , general program that offered academic courses for
preparing for higher education and also technical and
courses for students expecting to find employment after
More than 70 percent of upper-secondary school students
enrolled in the general academic program in the late
1980s. A small
number of schools offer part-time or evening courses or
The first-year programs for students in both academic
commercial courses are similar. They include basic
courses, such as Japanese language, English, mathematics,
science. In upper-secondary school, differences in ability
first publicly acknowledged, and course content and course
selection are far more individualized in the second year.
there is a core of academic material throughout all
Vocational-technical programs includes several hundred
specialized courses, such as information processing,
fish farming, business English, and ceramics. Business and
industrial courses are the most popular, accounting for 72
of all students in full-time vocational programs in 1989.
The upper-secondary curriculum also underwent thorough
revision; in 1989 a new Course of Study for
was announced that was to be phased in beginning with the
grade in 1994, followed by the eleventh grade in 1995 and
twelfth grade in 1996. Among noteworthy changes is the
that both male and female students take a course in home
The government is concerned with instilling in all
awareness of the importance of family life, the various
responsibilities of family members, the concept of
within the family, and the role of the family in society.
family continues to be an extremely important part of the
infrastructure, and the ministry clearly is interested in
maintaining family stability within a changing society.
change of note was the division of the old social studies
into history, geography, and civics courses.
Most upper-secondary teachers are university graduates.
Uppersecondary schools are organized into departments, and
specialize in their major fields although they teach a
courses within their disciplines. Although women compose
percent of the teaching force, only 2.5 percent of
Teaching depends largely on the lecture system, with
goal of covering the very demanding curriculum in the time
allotted. Approach and subject coverage tends to be
least in the public schools. As in lower-secondary school,
teachers, not the students, move from room to room after
fifty-minute class period.
Upper-secondary students are subject to a great deal of
supervision by school authorities and school rules even
school. Students' behavior and some activities are
school codes that are known and obeyed by most children.
regulations often set curfews and govern dress codes,
student employment, and even leisure activities. The
frequently is responsible for student discipline when a
afoul of the regulations or, occasionally, of the law.
Delinquency generally, and school violence in
troubling to Japanese authorities. Violations by
school students include smoking and some substance abuse
(predominantly of amphetamines). Use of drugs, although
serious problem by international standards, is of concern
police and civil authorities
(see Public Order and Internal Security
, ch. 8). Bullying and the drop-out rate are also
of attention. Upper-secondary students drop out at a rate
between 2.0 and 2.5 percent per year. The graduation rates
upper-secondary schools stood at 87.5 percent in 1987.
Discrimination in education is prohibited, but the
buraku discriminated communities, a group of people
and culturally Japanese who have been discriminated
historically, are still disadvantaged in education to some
, ch. 2). Their relatively poor educational
attainment through the upper-secondary level in the 1960s
to have been largely corrected by the 1980s, but reliable
There are some private schools for the children of the
community in Japan, and there are some Korean schools for
of Japan's Korean minority population, many of whom are
secondgeneration or third-generation residents in Japan.
Korean schools face some discrimination, particularly in
higher education. Observers estimated that 75 percent of
children were attending Japanese schools in the early
Training of handicapped students, particularly at the
uppersecondary level, emphasizes vocational education to enable
to be as independent as possible within society.
training varies considerably depending on the student's
but the options are limited for some. It is clear that the
government is aware of the necessity of broadening the
possibilities for these students. Advancement to higher
is also a goal of the government, and it struggles to have
institutions of higher learning accept more handicapped
Upper-secondary school students returning to Japan
overseas present another problem. The ministry was trying
upper-secondary schools to accept these students more
in the late 1980s had decided to allow credit for one
uppersecondary school year spent abroad.
Upper-secondary school graduates choosing to enter the
force are supported by a very effective system of job
which, combined with favorable economic conditions, keeps
unemployment rate among new graduates quite low
(see The Structure of Japan's Labor Market
, ch. 4). For those students going
college, the final phases of school life becomes
dedicated to preparing for examinations, particularly in
the elite private schools. About 31 percent of
graduates advance to some form of higher education
After-school clubs provide an important upper-secondary
activity. Sports, recreational reading, and watching
popular daily leisure activities, but schoolwork and other
remain the focus of the daily lives of most children. The
entrance examinations greatly influence school life and
habits, not only for college-bound students but also
all; the prospect of the examinations often imparts a
to the tone of school life at the upper-secondary level.
Data as of January 1994