Challenges Persist as Only 20% of Japanese Public High Schools Set Foreign Student Quotas

Challenges Persist as Only 20% of Japanese Public High Schools Set Foreign Student Quotas | Future Education Magazine


Source- Kyodo News

In a recent survey conducted by Kyodo News, it was revealed that only 20% of public high schools in Japan have quotas for accepting foreign students in entrance exams for the upcoming academic year starting in April. Despite government guidance encouraging the introduction of special entry frameworks, the majority of public high schools, around 3,130 out of 3,880, lack such quotas.

Out of the surveyed schools, approximately 750 had quotas for foreign resident students who passed special admission exams. However, the findings raise concerns about the ability of schools without these frameworks to provide proper Japanese-language instruction to enrolled foreign students.

The challenges cited by schools without quotas include difficulties in offering Japanese lessons tailored to students with varying proficiency levels and the logistical hurdle of finding interpreters for different foreign languages.

Japanese Ministry Urges Public High Schools to Welcome Foreign Students 

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology has consistently urged education boards in each prefecture to ensure that public high schools are open to accepting foreign nationals. The emphasis is on the importance of upper secondary schooling to facilitate work opportunities.

In Japan, compulsory education concludes after junior high school, and students must undergo entrance examinations similar to those for universities to gain admission to high school or vocational school.

According to ministry data, the number of foreign students in elementary, junior high, and high schools requiring Japanese-language instruction exceeded 47,000 in fiscal year 2021, marking a 1.8-fold increase from fiscal year 2012.

However, among those foreign students requiring Japanese-language lessons, only 89.9% entered high schools in fiscal year 2021, compared to 99.2% of overall junior high school students in the same year. The data also revealed that 5.5% of foreign students admitted to high schools later dropped out, compared to 1% for high school students overall.

Ishigeshiho High School in Ibaraki Prefecture Strives to Support 100 Foreign Students from 15 Countries

In Ibaraki Prefecture, Ishigeshiho High School currently hosts around 100 foreign students from 15 different countries. The school provides two hours of Japanese-language lessons per week for those in need. However, educators acknowledge the challenges in supporting all foreign students effectively, considering Japanese-language instruction as an evolving process of trial and error.

Koji Sato, a teacher in charge of career guidance at Ishigeshiho High School, expressed the difficulties, saying, “Japanese-language instruction is a process of trial and error. We tell them that they can have more options for their future universities and jobs if they study hard now.”

While foreign resident students have alternatives such as private high schools or international schools, these options can be expensive or located far from their current residences. Miho Yoshida, a professor at Hirosaki University’s Graduate School of Education, specializing in the sociology of education, emphasized the need for support measures post-enrollment in high school for foreign students. Yoshida noted that a person who has only graduated from junior high school may find it challenging to secure a full-time job in Japan without adequate support.

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