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There’s been a lot of talk about education reform; unfortunately, the reform presently being advanced by the education ministry has little to no reality on the ground. Our struggle as an international couple trying to give our 15-year-old son a decent education has been one of never-ending disappointment.

Three years ago we placed him in a private junior high, hoping that he would benefit from smaller classes with emphasis on internationalization. Six months later, he was physically accosted by a teacher because his spotty Japanese at the time prevented him from understanding it was his turn to clean up. In North America, such an incident would have resulted in a teacher losing his job and, depending on the severity, ending up in jail. Yet the only response by the school was to insist on talking, which clearly reveals why there is so much violence in Japanese schools. Slapping teachers and students on the wrists for violent behavior will do little to deter violence and bullying.

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