Sun, Mar 05, 2006 - Page 14 News List

Japan brings back six-day week 日本恢復週六上課制

A Japanese student offers a wooden tablet with her prayers written on it at Yushima Tenjin Shrine in Tokyo. It is common in Japan for students to visit temples at this time of year to pray for success on their college entrance exams.

PHOTO: APNU65E5U672CU6771U4EACU7684U6E6FU5CF6U5929U795EU795EU793

Just four years ago, Japan's high-pressure public school system decided to lighten the burden on young students by getting rid of Saturday classes and using a five-day schedule.

Now, some schools are saying five days are not enough. Under pressure to prepare students better for university, two Tokyo-area high schools have announced they will go back to a six-day week when the new school year starts in April. The schools say that parents and students are worried that public school standards might be hurt by recent changes made to try to lower pressure on students and help them be more creative.

``Many students at the two schools are on a college track,'' education official Junichi Asaumi said. ``Some students, along with their parents, asked for the Saturday classes as a supplement to help them do better,'' he said.

Asaumi, however, said the return to a six-day week will not be total. Saturday school will be held every other week and be open to parents to see what their children are learning. Asaumi says they will not be full-blown study periods.

Some parents are afraid that children in less difficult public schools will fall behind students at private schools, which still use the six-day schedule, said Yoshio Kato of the Saitama Parent-Teacher Association.

``Public school fees may be less expensive, but parents don't want to see a big gap in the education that children receive,'' Asumi said.

Over the past 20 years, people have become worried that the Japanese education system puts too much pressure on children, causing student burnout and bullying, and making more and more children say they do not want to go to school. Although changes have been made in the past few years, they have not changed the pressure students feel toward university entrance exams. (AP)

Reading Comprehension

1. When was Japan's school schedule changed?

a. in 2002

b. five years ago

c. in February

2. Two high schools are going back to a six-day week because ...

a. the students are becoming too relaxed.

b. some students want more help getting ready for college.

c. the students are refusing to go to school.

3. The six-day school week ...

a. made public schools better than private schools.

b. is still used by Japan's private schools.

c. will now be used all over Japan.

4. Who wanted to go back to having school on Saturdays?

a. parents and teachers

b. students and teachers

c. parents and students







過去二十年來,日本教育體制加諸過多壓力在學子身上,造成學生自殺自殘、恃強欺弱及拒絕上學等情況,一直令許多人憂心不已。儘管過去幾年日本實施了教育改革,但這些改革絲毫沒有減輕學子面對大學聯考的壓力。 (美聯社)

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