A report last week from the Japanese Ministry of Education about the sorry state of some low-ranked universities, lovingly called “F-rank,” sent ripples through the country and reignited a debate about how to properly prepare students for “life in the real world.” While the Japanese government’s announcement sparked renewed interest in higher education reform, these low-level schools (and their terrible textbooks) have been the butt of jokes on the Internet for years. F-rank universities are notorious for their extremely lax entrance requirements, high student-to-teacher ratio and producing graduates who simply aren’t ready to enter the real world and join a company. Education advocates and people tired of dealing with incompetent co-workers all wanted to share their ideas about how to change the system to avoid a generation of poorly trained workers.
Ministry of Education
In a review of the current five-day school week currently being used in public schools across Japan, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology said it is considering Saturday classes and a re-introduction of the six-day school week that was phased out between 1992 and 2002.
New curriculum guidelines mandating increased classroom hours resulting from a re-examination of the Ministry’s Yutori Kyoiku, (pressure-free education) program were introduced to elementary schools last year, and fully implemented in junior high schools this year. In seeking the use of Saturdays, the Ministry hopes to improve the academic ability of the nation’s youth by securing more teaching hours. It also hopes to dispel concerns of a widening “education gap” between public schools and private schools, many of which continue to implement Saturday classes.