Use of private English tests for university exams delayed after gaffe
Japan Today -- Nov 02
The government decided Friday to put off the planned introduction of private-sector English proficiency tests as part of Japan's standardized university entrance exams due to start next April, the education minister said, following his gaffe over the matter.

"We cannot recommend the current (exam) system to students with confidence," education minister Koichi Hagiuda said at a press conference.

He said the ministry will review the system over a year, including whether the private-sector tests should be used at all, and aim to introduce a new scheme around the 2024 academic year.

The current English-language component of the standardized exam only assesses reading and listening comprehension, and the use of private-sector tests that also check writing and speaking skills was meant to evaluate students in a more comprehensive manner.

However, critics have said use of the private-sector tests would be problematic in terms of access to test locations and the relatively high examination fees.

Hagiuda triggered an outcry on Oct. 24 when he said on a TV program that students should compete for university places "in accordance with their (financial) standing" when asked about the fairness of using the tests.

The remark sparked criticism and calls for a postponement from members of the ruling as well as opposition parties and high school administrators. Hagiuda retracted the remark five days later.

However, Hagiuda maintained Friday that his controversial remark "did not affect the decision" to delay the exams, citing insufficient coordination with the private sector as an underlying factor.

News source: Japan Today
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