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János Györi Gordon: What Makes Japanese Edacation More Effective? The role of extra curricular education and training in Japanese education

Japan is said to be a society of education. Education is a dominant part of Japanese children's lives. Although they do spend a lot of time in the classroom, in addition they frequently participate in extra curricular educational activities. In the first part of the article, the author introduces the system of formal education in Japan. According to the statistics, he states that the state and the local communities want to have the greatest impact on the elementary school and junior high school educational level. At the high school and university level many more students attend private schools than ever before. Both private and traditional education clubs have an extremely important role. Although these programs take place after school and children are free to chose any club, they practically function as compulsory activities. The author describes many types (e.g. sport, language, music, painting, calligraphy, etc.) of Japanese school clubs as well as the many important roles it impacts upon society. He states that these clubs create an important balance between general and gifted education. They have an formidable and active role in socialization. For example, children learn a lot about vertical human relations (e.g. sempai-kohai relationship) in the clubs. Furthermore the author continues to state the benefits of these extra curricular clubs by writing that these clubs form a preventive role against crime in society. The clubs are free of cost; thus, they allow for diversity of the participants. This is very important for different aspects of the idea of equality in education and society in Japan. However, this system has innate weaknesses, e.g. many teachers and trainers of the clubs are not professionals. In the second part of the article two main types of private Japanese "cram schools" which prepare Japanese students for their entrance examinations are introduced: jukus and yobikos. Jukus train the children for their entrance examination for high school, yobikos prepare those who want to take entrance examinations to university. According to Stevenson and Baker, the author regards the system of jukus and yo-bikos as a „shadow education” system in Japan, which has a great influence on Japanese formal education. Shadow education functions as an extra large and strong private enterprise in Japan. This shadow education is able to function in Japan because the „consumers” (the families) can pay for it. In a sense they want to pay for it because education (as previously mentioned) has an extremely important function in Japanese society: it has a very strong and lasting impact on the entire life and career of a person in Japan. Also, Japanese education is very competitive. To further elucidate the situation, the author introduces the most important contemporary theories which attempt to describe the connection between competition in education and social mobility in societies. Since Japan is clearly a meritocratic society, typically the best students are accepted by the best universities; in the past as well as now graduating from these universities means a good life-long career in Japan. In the next part the author deals with different aspects of yobikos and jukus. How they themselves select among the students, what kind of educational programs they have, who the teachers are in shadow education, what the connection is between the parents economic and educational status and shadow education, why boys are typically the consumers of this system and not the girls, etc. Also ronins, lives are introduced in a detailed way: ronins are those who failed their entrance examination to a university and who pay for a whole-day whole-year educational program in a yobiko. In the next part the author states that shadow education has a lot of advantages and disadvantages. One positive example is the flexibility of these innovative and customeroriented educational programs. A negative aspect of this system is that it itself reproduces the need of shadow education, thus creating pressure on many people to use this possibility. Moreover, teachers in shadow education teach only technics, not substantive knowledge. The author states that private education as an extremely big private enterprise with a nationwide and international impact is a new and very influential phenomenon in the history of education. In the last part the author compares some features of Japanese and Hungarian education from the aspect of private trainings for school entrance examinations. He mentions some possible good aspects of shadow education in the future in Hungary and he writes about some of its dangers.

MAGYAR PEDAGÓGIA 98. Number 4. 273-317. (1998)

Levelezési cím / Address for correspondence: Gordon Győri János, Eötvös Loránd Tudományegyetem, Radnóti Miklós Gyakorlóiskola, H–1146, XIV. Cházár A. u. 10.


Magyar Tudományos Akadémia