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What's interesting about the Japanese school system is that it has one of the highest levels of literacy in the world. Ninety-nine percent of children over the age of 15 are literate in Japan. How do they achieve these high results? What is the Japanese education system like? Today we would like to take a closer look at Japanese schools and academic writings such as editorials and various essays.

What is the structure of Japanese schools?

The structure of Japanese schools seems very standard: when children are four years old, they can start going to kindergarten. In Japan, kindergarten is optional. The school is divided into three levels: primary, secondary and high school. The first two levels are mandatory. Children begin attending primary school at the age of six and secondary school at the age of twelve. At the age of fifteen, students finish secondary school and have the opportunity to decide where they want to study next. They can either go to high school or to certain specialized establishments or vocational schools. After high school, children can enroll in university or other higher education institutions.



All Japanese kindergartens are private, and some of them have an elitist reputation because they are affiliated with prestigious universities. If a child goes to such a kindergarten, he then goes to the school which is also affiliated with one of the universities. The beauty of this system is that these children are automatically enrolled in college without exams. This opportunity to become a university student right out of school is extremely valuable because for Japanese, it is crucial to have a university degree to be hired in a good company and obtain an honorable position. This is why these prestigious kindergartens are very expensive and children have to pass a difficult exam to be enrolled. They will then be able to flourish there in a normal way by playing, for example, with wooden toys and many other educational games.

From primary to high school

School education lasts quite a long time (12 years). An interesting feature of Japanese schools is that children are constantly moved from one class to another, which gives them the opportunity to study with different people and become more sociable and open. If a child doesn't get along well with his classmates, it's easier for him because at some point he will be moved to another class with a different group of people.

Each Japanese school class has an assigned classroom and teachers come to that room to give the students a 40-minute lesson. Up to 40 children study in one class and most of them do not leave school after secondary school. At the primary school level, children study the Japanese language, mathematics, chemistry, biology and physics, as well as history, art and music. Physical education also plays an important role. At secondary level, they study the same subjects and also start studying English and can choose other subjects that interest them.

However, these are not the only courses that Japanese children must take. To gain admission to university, children must also attend additional classes with tutors where they can improve the knowledge acquired at school. These additional lessons are very useful because the tutors have an individual approach with each child. This is why Japanese school students do not repeat a year, each student manages to move on to the next class.


Much attention is paid to the personality of the students. They are taught to be active members of society and to always consider the interests of the community as a whole first. They are taught to love people and animals, everything around them; to be compassionate and sympathetic; to make the world a better place, etc. Students sing together and often participate in various sports games, this way they learn to be part of the group.

In Japan, compulsory education (primary and secondary) is free, while secondary and higher education institutions always have tuition fees (public schools are generally cheaper than private schools). At the end of secondary school, a student receives a list of secondary schools where he can be enrolled based on his results. Then students have to take an exam and, depending on the exam score and other grades obtained in school, they can choose a secondary education institution. Those who pass the exams can go to prestigious schools that lead to good universities. Students who do not plan to attend college go to less prestigious schools where they can major in agriculture, household management, etc. Vocational schools also require very good grades because professionals in these fields are extremely valuable, which is why competition is so high at these schools.

The reason why Japan achieved such high results is that Japanese children know from childhood that education is extremely important for a successful life and strive to show the best results.