4 Awesome features of the Japanese system of education that separates it from the rest

The Japan education system

Education system is considered to be spine of a country’s future, its economy, prosperity and peace. The better educated a generation will be, the better and more peaceful the country will do.

We’re always taught to look at the best so that we learn and we inspire from them.

Speaking of the best, I wouldn’t refrain from mentioning the top 5 education systems of the world because it’s a must as I write this article on one of the best education system in the world

1. Finland
2. Japan
3. South Korea
4. Denmark and,
5. Russia

Japan education system secures the second spot in the list.

In this article, I have chosen to tell you about the education system of Japan.

When I was a kid and internet was a rarity even then I was told by a professor (not of my school but of reputed institutions) about the Japan education system.

I always believed in individual work and at the age of 13, I had a verbal argument with one of the lady professors of my mother’s school regarding working in a team against working as an individual.

Rhetorically speaking, I was pinned to the ground in that debate because of all the wise reasoning she gave me. But during that debate, she mentioned about the importance of team work by giving an example of how Japanese school students are asked to clean toilets and classrooms as a part of team building ability.

Hearing that I gave an expression of surprise and in my mind the matter closed down.

Years passed by and one day I got my hands on Robert Kiyosaki’s book ‘Be Rich and Happy’.

In that book, he narrated events signaling how the education system categorizes students as winners and losers. I interpreted from that book that the education system is broken.

While giving some thought to it, the debate incident of the past popped in my head reminding of the team work performed by the Japanese school students.

And then I started researching on education system of Japan. Here in this article I will give you some insights into the system reading which you’ll yourself realize why it’s one of the best.

Teamwork and collaboration

Collaboration teamwork is often talked about in many education systems of the world but is often left out from action.

Each Japanese school focuses a lot on imparting the importance of team building and collaboration to its students.

There are few activities which these schools focus upon. These activities when done by children brings in a different culture altogether.

Teamwork is a term which you must often hear as adults but it’s during the development years of children, Japanese focus upon which leads to better growth and high literacy rate.

Let’s look at these activities one by one –


A few months ago I wrote an article on ‘Should students wear uniforms in school?’ in which even though I left the judgment to my readers but frankly telling, I am in favor of uniform culture.

The Japan education system strongly focuses on uniforms as the reasons are obvious.

1. The students feel a sense of belonging to the school.

2. They feel that they are a single community.

3. The school uniform also eliminates all social barriers among children, so there are no children of rich and no children of poor, they are only students.

Lunch together

During the lunch hour, the teachers and the students sit together in a classroom and eat together. The schools provide nutritious food to students, which is also a secret of them being healthy today.

Health is very necessary for 100% attendance in school for an average student to get educated properly. The Japanese schools know this secret ingredient of basing education on health, which is why, the education in Japan is considered to be of high quality.

Students take turns each day to serve food to other teams during the lunch hour, this leads to building a collaborative team environment

Clean together

One of the major team collaboration activities which no one must have heard conducted in any education system of the world is Japanese students clean classrooms to learn life skills.

Not only classrooms but they work as a team in cleaning toilets, school halls, garden etc.

This particular activity helps them learn responsibility, team work and more importantly, life skills.

Teaching life skills in children’s education is very important as all successful people say that life skills or dealing with what life throws at you is not taught in any school.

Look at that! Japan students have an edge above the students of every other education system.

Education system strategy helping students retain information

The education system in Japan is one of the best. It produces achievers.

To become an achiever, a student must be attentive in the class. Teachers blame students of not being attentive in the class often.

However, it is not easy for young minds to concentrate unless there is something that really interests them.

Whatever, the teacher is explaining on the blackboard unless it is not explained in a proper and (I would use the world entertaining here) in an entertaining way, young minds won’t grasp the concept.

A friend of mine who visited Japan in 2012 narrated me how the Japanese school system tackles this problem.

On a regular school day, the teacher arrives in the class.

The teacher presents the concepts and then writes a math problem for students to solve after giving them instructions.

The first student to solve this math problem calls for teacher’s attention. The teacher then checks the solution of the student and notifies, through a special signature in the notebook, if the solution is correct.

The moment the next student calls for teacher’s attention, instead of the teacher, the first student who solved the problem moves to the desk of the student to check if his/her solution is correct.

Thus, in this way, the students become the teachers because the Japanese believe that by teaching what you have learnt you’ll remember more.

back to school day

When I retrospect on my school days, I wonder after mere 15 minutes of hearing to what teacher taught, even in the first period of school, my mind processed the information as

‘So, the 3 properties of magnet are 1) attractive property – it attracts ferromagnetic material and then blah blah blah!’

The words nearly would stop making sense because the style of teaching was the same every day.

I totally empathize with students who feel stressed sitting in a class for 40 minutes – 1 hour when they have lost track of the information within first 15 minutes.

I wish my teachers could have used this Japan education system technique.

Emphasis on teaching manners to students

The development years of a kid are very important. Whatever is taught to a kid during his/her development years from 4-18 stays with them.

In most of the education systems of the world, manners are always put ahead of learning. But, that happens on the first day only, and over a period of time every school in order to complete its curriculum sidelines the whole process of teaching good manners to students.

Moral science is a subject which is often seen as a pastime period in the school day. Rarely, this moral science lecture appears twice a week.

The Moral science test is conducted as a formality throughout the year with students knowing that they will never fail in the subject and hence, they should focus on scoring well in science, math and English.

The Japan education system has a different approach to this. Teaching manners to students is strongly emphasized in their schools which is why, till class 3 only minor tests are conducted for checking students’ performance.

However, a lot of effort and time is devoted to teaching manners in school. Students are also taught to respect animals as well as nature.

Lessons of altruism are given to the students which help them to empathize with their fellow classmates. Also, they are provided lessons on self-respect during those early years.

This gives them a cutting edge when it comes to life skills over students of other countries.

Structure of one of the best education systems in the world

I have kept it as a last topic of this article intentionally as I wanted to first introduce with some of the best features of the japan education system and then once you’re already feeling nice about it, take you to the structure of the education system.

The school system of Japan is categorized into 4 parts

1. The elementary school lasting for a time span of 6 years

2. The middle school lasting for a time span of 3 years

3. High school lasting for a period of 3 years

4. Finally University education lasting for a time span of 4 years.

You may want to know that not even a single student in Japan is allowed to miss the first 2 categories which means, elementary and middle schools are compulsory for every student to attend.

A school year, unlike in Indian education system, starts from April 1 and is divided into 3 trimesters.

The students get vacations in spring, and winter.

Examination hell

The term examination hell circles around in the education system as this is the only period in a Japanese student’s life which compels him/her to study hard under pressure.

Getting into a university/college is tough in Japan, the colleges set a score threshold crossing which only a student can take admission in that college.

Those exams are tough and a lot of students compete for a single college. This brings in pressure under which students study harder and harder in order to clear the examination so that they can go into college.

Final Word

Lots and lots of things are there to learn from the education system of Japan. If you’ve been able to read the entire article I am sure a pleasant feeling is running across your mind.

After reading these features, the next step is the implementation because without doing so, there won’t come the change that we expect.

Students are running after creating better futures in which they are missing on precious years of childhood. It’s the responsibility of the education system of a country to decide what it wants top scorers or compassionate successful human beings?

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