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The board of education in Shinagawa Ward, Tokyo, intends to introduce combined elementary and junior high schools in fiscal 2006 and reduce the number of years students receive elementary school-style education, board members said Wednesday.

Under the new system, students will receive four years of elementary school education and five years of junior high classes, as opposed to the six years and three years currently received. The change will be carried out to correspond with children’s psychological and physical growth patterns, the board said.

The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry is also considering similar revisions to create a more flexible education system.

The board said girls in particular experience rapid physical growth in the fifth and sixth grades, while all kids undergo significant psychological changes and become more independent around the eighth grade.

During the four years of elementary school, students will continue to learn comprehension and composition skills via integrated lessons provided mainly by their homeroom teacher.

The extended junior high school term will be broken down into a “three-two curriculum.” For example, the five years of English education will consist of grammar-focused lessons in the first three years and conversation practice in the last two.

The board will formulate concrete syllabuses for each subject at a later date, the members said.

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