Japan’s Education System

This post is by Sara Skillman, a student in the Higher Education Administration program.

Today, our group had a quick but comprehensive overview of the education system in Japan. We started with a lecture at the National Institute for Educational Policy Research to learn more about the K-12 education system in Japan. The purpose was to gain a better understanding of what a typical student experiences at school throughout his or her childhood and adolescence, which proved useful as we also visited a Japanese high school (more on that a little later).

One important observation of this particular lecture was the emphasis on students being involved in their nutrition. The following photo explains the lunch menu for an elementary school in Japan. The first graders shelled the peas that went into the rice dish and worried that they wouldn’t be enjoyed: “1st graders were worrying if peas are good enough and ‘would everyone eat them up?’ 1st graders did the work for us. Let’s not leave them unfinished.” They clearly put a lot of thought into the overall well being of their students.

IMG_0658Explanation of school lunch

Akihiko Hashimoto

“School Age Life in Contemporary Japan”

We also had another lecturer talk to us more about their evaluation of English language curriculum. Improvements are being made to strengthen English instruction. There is a strong emphasis on communication abilities and how it is important for teachers to engage their students and provide proper linguistic support for student success.

At our next destination, we had the opportunity to talk with students at Kanagawa Sohgoh High School. I think I can speak for our group when I say that this was the highlight of our day. Being able to talk to students about their individual experiences in the Japanese school system is an invaluable foundation for our research interests. The students were insightful and answered some difficult questions about their thoughts on Japanese education and society. Since these particular students had at one point lived in another country, this added an important dimension to our interest in international education.

High School

GW group with students from Kanagawa Sohgoh High School

We then traveled to Waseda University to learn about their internationalization efforts on campus as well as between the US and Japan. Many of us on this trip are interested in how Japan aims to send more students abroad and bring in more international students through various efforts. It was useful to learn more about the steps Japan is taking to build international partnerships for student mobility.

This blog entry wouldn’t be complete without a picture of our dinner – the best meal I’ve had in Japan so far. I love how much care is put into each dish. Itadakimasu!


All for me!



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