Gifted Education and One Case Solution through E-Learning in Japan

Gifted Education and One Case Solution through E-Learning in Japan

Masahiro Nagai (Tokyo Metropolitan University, Japan) and Noriyuki Matsunami (Nishi-Tokyo Shi Sakae Elementary School, Japan)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0034-6.ch051
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Abstract

Japanese parents are genuinely concerned about their children's education, especially if the latter display exceptional abilities. Such parents also believe that the public education system insufficiently nurtures their gifted children's potential. Consequently, parents frequently enroll their children in private schools and afterschool programs at cram schools (juku), which feature accelerated, condensed curriculums. Juku have subsequently prospered, with approximately 37.8% of Japanese sixth grade students attending one (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, & Technology in Japan, 2008). Public schools have noted juku students' excellent examination results and begun hiring juku instructors (Kuroishi, 2009). Unfortunately, equally gifted, but poor, students cannot afford to enroll in these institutions (Mimiduka, 2009). Therefore, the authors propose implementing an e-learning system, granting students affordable access to supplemental learning opportunities. Herein, they discuss the state of Japanese gifted education before highlighting e-learning's effectiveness in this context based on practical educational research at a Tokyo elementary school.
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Organization Background

As is shown in Figure 1, Japan has adopted a nine-year compulsory educational system, during which time students attend public schools free of charge. From an international perspective, many countries likewise have compulsory education for children aged from 6 to 15 years, and in this respect, Japan is no different from many other countries (Central Council for Education, 2006) (Figure 1).

Figure 1.

International comparison of compulsory education years (Central Council for Education, 2006)

Unlike other countries, Japan has not adopted a grade-skipping system within the framework of compulsory education nor does it have a system adapted to the special needs of gifted students. On the completion of compulsory education, for the most part, Japanese students sit a selective examination to continue to high school. High schools provide general and specialist education for students who have completed compulsory education, and students must complete three years of education to graduate from high school (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology [MEXT], 2005) (Figure 2). The percentage of students continuing their education in high school exceeded 90% in the 1970s and a similarly high percentage is maintained today.

Figure 2.

School educational system in Japan (MEXT)

In addition, higher education in Japan is mainly conducted by universities and junior colleges. At these higher education institutes, students can receive an advanced, specialized education in four years at universities and two years at junior colleges. The percentage of students attending universities is currently around 50%, which is below the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) average.

It is important to understand how the parents and guardians of school-age children evaluate the education provided in Japan, particularly compulsory education. A survey of 6,831 parents and guardians with children attending public and private schools throughout Japan was recently conducted by the Benesse Educational Research and Development Institute (2013), which is a private-sector educational research institute. This research institute is considered to be one of the most reliable in Japan, as, for example, it conducts studies on behalf of MEXT. As is shown in Figures 3 and 4, the results of this survey revealed that approximately 80% of parents and guardians with children attending elementary schools, and around 70% with children attending junior high schools were satisfied with the education being provided.

Figure 3.

Overall satisfaction levels with elementary schools (Benesse, 2013)

Figure 4.

Overall satisfaction levels with junior high schools (Benesse, 2013)

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