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The enrollment figures presented by Robert Dujarric and Yuki Allyson Honjo in their Feb. 5 article, “Why can’t Japanese kids get into Harvard?,” mirrored my own observations from when I was an undergrad there. Compared to the many students from Korea, China and elsewhere throughout Asia, Japanese students were surprisingly few and far between. Furthermore, of the Japanese students who were enrolled, virtually all of them had studied at international schools, rather than at Japanese high schools.

In addition to the poor communication skills and disincentives from Japanese employers cited by Dujarric and Honjo, Japanese public schools are overly fixated on instilling conformity, focusing their lesson plans on rote memorization of facts for the purpose of passing the next entrance exam. Not only does this inflexible process leave students burned out upon graduation, it wholly neglects the development of independence, self- confidence, and the simple love of learning for its own sake. These traits are indispensable to those who will be the science, business and government leaders of tomorrow, and are what the products of the Japanese school system are sadly lacking.

It is for these reasons that my wife and I have decided on international schooling for our son. While we would have liked to send him to our local public school where he could study together with kids from the same neighborhood, we unfortunately have to conclude that this would come at the expense of a quality education.

jean-marc rocher

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