In Japan, the new school year begins at the beginning of April, the same month the government's new fiscal year starts. he compulsory period for a child’s education lasts nine years. Children enter elementary school at the age of six and study for six years, followed by three years of junior high school. After that, it’s possible to do three years in high school and an additional four years at university. Other options include vocational college and graduate school. Most students continue on to high school, and the majority of these go to university. Some people say that Japan’s development is based on its high educational standards. There used to be many rounin, that is students who had failed their entrance exams in order to enter higher education in the next year. As a result, many juku (cram schools), providing support to students seeking to go on to higher education, appeared all over the country. Nowadays, the competition in entrance exams is less fierce, and this is down to the influence of a declining birthrate. However, during exam season many students visit a shrine to pray for success in their entrance examinations. It is said that the high standard of the Japanese education system began with terakoyain the Edo Era (17th to 19th centuries). This was an institute that taught reading, writing and arithmetic to children of ordinary citizens, and could be found in every town. It is said that at the end of the Edo period, about 90% of children studied there. The Meiji era (19th to 20th centuries) came after the Edo era and during this time a book called “Gakumon no Susume” (An Encouragement of Learning) written by FUKUZAWA Yukichi, became a bestseller. The number of copies sold exceeded 3.4 million, which was then the equivalent of 10% of the Japanese population. The author’s portrait is used on the current 10,000 yen note. When the USA occupied Japan after World War II, they conducted a survey into the literacy of the Japanese. Behind this, they had the aim in mind of changing Japanese script over to romaji (the Roman alphabet). It is said the survey was carried out with the preconception that Japan had entered into a war it could not win because due to the complexity of the Japanese language, most Japanese could not read. The survey results showed much higher levels of Japanese literacy than expected, leading to the scrapping of the project. You could say that card games like karutaand hyakunin’isshu as well as literary forms like haiku, tanka and senryu, underpin this high literacy rate.
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