Arama They Didn't

The Japanese language barrier may be holding foreign graduates of Japanese public junior high schools from going on to high school, suggests a new survey showing just 78.9 percent of such students move on to the next level of education -- 20 points below the national average.

The survey, conducted by the "Gaikokujin shuju toshi kaigi" (Council of municipalities with large foreign populations), covered 1,010 foreign graduates of public junior highs this past spring in the council's 29 member municipalities including Iida, Nagano Prefecture, Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, Ota, Gunma Prefecture, and Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture.

All the participating municipalities have large concentrations of foreign residents, including the many South Americans of Japanese descent working in Japan's auto plants. The results are set for official release at a council meeting in Tokyo on Nov. 12.

For the purposes of the study, which the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology says is the first of its kind to cover multiple municipalities, survey subjects were categorized as foreign if their mother tongue was not Japanese, even if they had Japanese citizenship. Results were gathered by querying junior high homeroom teachers about where their students went to high school.

The results showed that 52.8 percent of foreign graduates went to a regular full-day high school, 22 percent went to high school part-time, 2.6 percent went on to take correspondence courses, and 1.5 percent embarked on "other" education, including intensive Japanese language courses.

When broken down by Japanese language ability, the survey found that 92.1 percent of foreign third-year students who could "understand regular class material" went on to high school or vocational school, as compared to the 67.5 percent of students who could not understand classroom vocabulary doing the same. Only 58.1 percent of students who could not make regular conversation in Japanese went to high school or vocational school.

The figures form a stark contrast to the 98.3 percent of junior-high students expected to graduate next spring -- numbering some 1.2 million -- set to progress to the next level of education. Regional figures for foreign students also apparently vary depending on the availability of part-time high school classes and special foreign student admissions systems.

"Since the study didn't cover foreign children who did not go to junior high school in the first place, I suspect the rate is actually 20 points lower," former Rikkyo University professor and multiculturalism expert Kosei Sakuma told the Mainichi. "Considering how academic performance-oriented Japan is, the subjects of this study -- most of whom are South American and Chinese -- are in the process of becoming an underclass in this society," he concluded.

The education ministry, meanwhile, stated that it is "now developing methods to improve the Japanese ability of foreign students, and once developed we believe these will prove of great help to classroom teachers."

SOURCE: Mainichi Newspaper
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