The education ministry plans to accept the attendance of high school truants who are studying at out-of-school institutions as having attended their regular schools, ministry sources said Thursday.
The move is part of an effort to provide support for high school truants and represents a turnaround for a ministry that until now has shunned such a policy on grounds that truants technically do not exist in high schools because attendance is not compulsory.
Only elementary and junior high schools are compulsory, but most junior high graduates go to high school.
Under the plan, high school principals or boards of education will have ultimate discretion over whether to regard those students as having attended their regular schools.
The ministry has already introduced a similar policy for elementary and junior high school students attending so-called free schools and other out-of-school institutions since 1992, when the number of elementary and junior high school truants topped 70,000.
Such unregistered private schools generally offer academic and counseling support for truants, although their educational services vary.
In the 2006 school year through March 2007, about 17,000 elementary and junior high school students attending those unofficial schools were regarded as having attended legitimately.
For students to receive guidance and instructions at free schools and have their attendance counted, the ministry has set such conditions as maintaining sufficient coordination between their original schools and parents.