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High school students who fell short of their required course load because their schools failed to provide them with sufficient curricula will be allowed to graduate if they take a blanket 70 hours of supplemental classes by the end of March, sources said.

Officials have been discussing ways to minimize the sense of inequality between the students who took all required subjects and those who did not because their schools had placed greater emphasis on readying them for university entrance exams.

Previous graduates who didn’t fulfill their required class load, in some cases more than 100 hours’ worth, will not be subject to the required 70-hour supplement because their schools are to blame for the shortfall, the sources said.

The officials will work out details of the remedial measures before announcing them later this week, the sources said.

On Tuesday, education minister Bummei Ibuki indicated that high school graduates will be able to keep their diplomas even if they did not complete all of the requirements due to inappropriate curricula.

“It is not realistic to say the students should complete an additional 300 hours of class to fulfill the requirement,” Ibuki said. “We are considering rescue measures.”

Ibuki said his ministry completed investigations at 5,170 of the nation’s 5,408 public and private high schools and determined that around 80,000 students at 461 schools have not met curriculum requirements.

The ministry has also said 79 percent of third-year students at public high schools can satisfy their credit requirements with 70 hours of extra classes, worth two credits, which can be taken intensively in March after university exams.

On students who need 140 hours of extra classes, worth four credits, the officials have said it was “physically possible” to earn the necessary credits by the end of March.

But many officials are sympathetic toward such students, saying long hours of supplemental classes before university exams would be too heavy a burden. They agreed that a less taxing measure was needed, even for those students at 2 percent of public high schools who missed 140 or more hours of compulsory classes.

Some boards of education and high schools have decided on their own remedial measures and offered supplemental classes early to enable their students to graduate in March as scheduled.

Steps they are pursuing include shortening the hours of supplemental classes, reducing the number of required credits through an extraordinary measure and shifting four-credit subjects, including World History B, into two-credit A subjects.

But many officials opposed reducing the number of required credits through the extraordinary measure, which is usually reserved for cases that include student illness, natural disasters and other special circumstances, but not for schools that violate ministry curriculum rules, the sources said.

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