Foreign students in Japan face big hurdles entering public high schools

Nikkei -- Jan 07

Nearly three-quarters, or 73%, of Japanese public high schools have no framework for accepting foreign resident students, putting them at a serious disadvantage in visa status and work opportunities, a Nikkei survey shows.

Compulsory education in Japan runs only through ninth grade -- the final year of middle school. More than 99% of students still go on to high school or vocational school, with high schools giving entrance examinations like those of universities.

But foreign students with limited Japanese proficiency are hard-pressed to compete with natives. So 10% of foreign students do not formally continue their education after middle school -- 10 times the figure for middle school graduates overall.

To work without restrictions, children who come to Japan under the care of highly skilled professionals need high school diplomas.

Many boards of education and schools have not responded to the education ministry's call to set special quotas for accepting foreign students and to reduce the number of subjects required for entrance exams. Possible reasons include seeing no need for them and having concerns about teaching foreign students.

From April, classes for learning Japanese as a second language at high schools will be eligible for credits. While steps are being taken to improve high school education for foreign students, getting a foot in the door remains a challenge. ...continue reading