27 February, 2015

Japanese education system fails kids

Sometimes people ask us about how the Japanese education system compares to the Australian system. My short answer is that they are very different, the Japanese system majors in repetition, rote learning, not giving your opinion or analysing things. They don't do so much in the way of up-front presentations either. (I know, quite a negative summary, many others who have had longer and more positive associations with the system will give you a different slant.)

Another thing that they don't do is cater for children who have relatively mild learning difficulties. There are programs for children with severe developmental difficulties, but for all those who fall in the less severe categories, including ADD, ADHD, and ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder or Aspergers), Dyslexia and even just learning difficulties that don't have a label, there doesn't seem to be much.

I occasionally help out families associated with CAJ and OMF with learning difficulty questions. Last year I wrote to a developmental expert in Japan (a foreigner, but who has been there long enough to know what he's talking about). I asked him about a child who has a learning difficulty, but isn't an English speaker (he has one Japanese parent and one German-speaking parent). He's in the Japanese education system. 

I was very disappointed in his answer:
I don't know of any place in the Japanese system that can validly assess and address children's learning difficulties . . . I'm not aware of any instructional programs in Japanese which effectively remediate reading problems.
A long time ago I read that Japan claims 100% literacy rate. (Wikipedia currently says this: 99% literacy, 99.9% male and 99.7% female!) I don't know how they can claim this, when they've got a system like this that hardly caters for those struggling to learn this complicated language.

After seeing the lengths that the Australian system will go to to support kids in this category, I am sad. Sad that so many Japanese kids are missing out.

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