Japanese Education and the Cram School Business

Functions, Challenges and Perspectives of the Juku

by Marie Højlund Roesgaard

  • Published:
  • Pages: 213 pp.
  • charts
  • Series number: 105
Available from NIAS Press worldwide

This is the first study of this integral, but overlooked sector of Japanese education. 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.

  • 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)

by Robert Aspinall, Shinga University
From journal:
Journal of Japanese Studies, Vol. 34, No. 1, 2008

"… scholars of Japan’s education system will want to consult this book because it provides an analysis of a key sector of the informal system that has not received proper attention before now.  … this books explains in a very precise and detailed way how the regular school system could not function without juku.

"… scholars of Japan’s education system will want to consult this book because it provides an analysis of a key sector of the informal system that has not received proper attention before now.  … this books explains in a very precise and detailed way how the regular school system could not function without juku.

Any future research into the phenomenon will surely benefit from Roesgaard’s pioneering work."

by Julian Dierkes
From journal:
H-Net Book Review, Nov. 2006

"Roesgaard’s book does scholarship on Japanese education a great favour by providing an initial classification of different types of "juku".  Through this classification she opens up an entire field of new questions for further research.

…Roesgaard’s book is assured an important place in the literature on supplementary education.

"Roesgaard’s book does scholarship on Japanese education a great favour by providing an initial classification of different types of "juku".  Through this classification she opens up an entire field of new questions for further research.

…Roesgaard’s book is assured an important place in the literature on supplementary education.

…provides some of the important groundwork … that will make further work on "juku" an important part of the literature on Japanese education."

by Tsukada Mamoru
From journal:
Pacific Affairs

“…a valuable contribution to the understanding of educational phenomena in Japan.

…essential for any Japan specialist interested in social issues in contemporary Japan."

“…a valuable contribution to the understanding of educational phenomena in Japan.

…essential for any Japan specialist interested in social issues in contemporary Japan."

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