Japanese Education and the Cram School Business

Functions, Challenges and Perspectives of the Juku

by Marie Højlund Roesgaard

roesgaard_cram.jpg
213 pp., charts
NIAS Monographs # 105
Available from NIAS Press worldwide




Hardback - 2006, Available
ISBN 978 87 91114 91 5, £35.00


  • Without cram schools, Japanese education could not function. Why?
  • What can Japanese cram schools tell us about crammers elsewhere?
  • This is the first study of this integral, but overlooked sector of education

 

Cram schools (in Japanese called juku) are often mentioned in passing as a phenomenon functioning mainly to exacerbate competition and pressure on children, but no thorough study has been carried out of their function and types. It is the author’s intention to contribute to a more nuanced understanding of this feature of education, which is not only important in Japan but increasingly so in other parts of the world as well.

Roesgaard’s major conclusion is that a clear distinction between different types of juku is necessary so that their function as well as merits and demerits can be properly assessed. Although juku have often been decried as enhancing competition in the Japanese system of schooling, this study also provides evidence that without them, the regular system of schooling would not be able to function. In the modern polarized society that is Japan, juku are taking on a variety of new functions that this study aims to uncover.

Part one sets the scene and presents a typology of juku. There follows a general description of the actors, juku, as well as descriptions of existing juku from the identified categories based on personal interviews. The final part discusses implications of the existence of juku in terms of political measures, their relation to particular new features of Japanese education (e.g. the 5-day school week) and the expenses and gains related to the juku.

A scholarly piece of work which will be of interest to those in Japanese studies and comparative education … There is nothing else that covers exactly the same ground and there is clearly a need for such a book on reading lists. (external reviewer)

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