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Proposed education reforms reported in recent articles do not address the most glaring, fundamental problems in the school system. Most crucially, no mention is made of the fact that it is too hard to enter university and too easy to graduate.

While there has been a reduction in school hours and something of a “dumbing down” of the high school curriculum, I have never heard it said that universities have made their entrance exams any easier. This virtually necessitates attendance at cram schools in order to pass the exams, but very little actual learning takes place.

Few people remember much of what they have to cram for a test, and if students feel that they’re only being taught what they need to know at cram schools, then discipline in high schools will only continue to deteriorate.

Moreover, the government should acknowledge that teaching morals and patriotism are rightly the job of parents — it should be no more than a secondary concern for teachers.

Instead of wasting time worrying whether students can sing “Kimigayo” or not, the Education Ministry should work on reforming the education system so that the final exams at high school are the benchmark for university entrance standards. This might also put the cram school industry more or less out of business, and as it has thrived on exploiting a fundamental weakness in the school system, this is no less than it deserves.

simon foston

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