Throughout the world, education systems function differently. Each country develops an educational system that will best fit the needs of their people. Countries often reshape and reform education systems based on success rates. After World War II, the Japanese educational system was reformed.
The system was changed from 6-5-3-3 to 6-3-3-4. Which means six years of elementary school, three years of junior high school, three years of high school, and four years of university. The newly reformed system is much like the United States, except for the three years of high school.
While having a 100 percent enrollment in elementary, a high school enrollment over 96 percent nationwide and nearly 100 percent in the cities. About 46 percent of high school graduates go on to universities or junior colleges. However, the high school dropout rate is about 2 percent and has been increasing. Japan is considered to have one of the world’s best education population.
The Japanese education funding is divided into two parts, funding for public school and private school. The Japanese public schools are funded by the support from the National, Municipal, and Prefectural governments. In elementary, prefectures pay two-thirds and the national government pays one-third of teacher’s salaries.
The support from the government makes public upper secondary school essentially free for families making below an annual income threshold. Families earning above this threshold pays tuition at the upper secondary level.
Private schools receive a great deal of public funding, with the Japanese government paying 50 percent of teacher’s salaries. Other forms of funding include capital grants, which go to private schools for a specific cost, including new buildings and equipment.
The Japanese government spends less on its schools than other OECD countries. The focus of funding is the teachers and the students. In 2014 Japan spent 3.2 percent of its GDP on education, which is lower than any other OECD country and below the OECD average of 4.4 percent. Japan spends $9,062 per student in primary school, $10,422 on lower secondary, and $11,047 on upper secondary. This is compared to the OECD averages $8,733, $10,235, and $10,182 respectively.
The first major assessment in Japanese schools is during the entrance to upper secondary school when they take entrance exams for admission. The admission into high schools is extremely competitive, and in addition to the entrance examinations, the student’s academic work, behavior and attitude, and record of participation in the community are taken into account as well.
High schools are ranked in each neighborhood, and Japanese students consider the high school where they register to be a influential factor in later achievement. Students are admitted to universities based on their scores on The National Center Test for University Admissions, as well as their performance on the individual exams administered by each university. The National Center Test evaluates students in five fields: Japanese language, foreign language, math, science, and social studies.