A panel of the Central Education Council, which advises the education minister, has compiled an interim report that urges more class hours for core subjects in elementary and junior high schools — the first such move in 30 years. The proposal would be carried out as early as in 2011 as courses of study are revised. The panel emphasizes cramming knowledge into children. This approach, though, will weaken the ability of students to learn to think for themselves in a responsible way and, in turn, hamper the healthy development of a civil society.

Class time in elementary schools would increase by 287 hours during the six-year period to 5,645 hours. Those for junior high schools would increase by 105 hours to 3,045 hours. The increase would affect key subjects — Japanese language, mathematics, science, social studies and, in junior high, English — as well as physical education. Characteristically, hours for “integrated study classes in elementary schools,” in which schools are allowed to decide what to teach students, will decrease from the 430 hours at present to 280 hours.

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