My CIES Presentation: Private-Sector Innovations in Primary and Secondary Education in Japan

Wednesday, May 4: Session 416. 13:45-15:15h, Queen Elizabeth Hotel Floor C – Saint Charles


The Japanese government has long publicly disavowed the existence of a large-scale supplementary education industry (juku and yobiko). Recently, waves of moral panics regarding education  (bullying, breakdown of classroom discipline, decline of academic abilities, school refusal, etc.) have led to a profound sense of insecurity among parents. This overall decline in trust in public education is leading to local policy innovations like the creation of extra lessons on Saturdays paid for by Boards of Education, but offered by private businesses. Tellingly, such nascent local reforms are reforms of form, not of substance in that they do not signal nor do they follow curricular innovation. Likewise, the most dynamic areas of innovation in private-sector education focus on delivery methods. There is a general trend toward individualized instruction and tutoring. Larger supplementary education businesses especially are investing enormous sums into various delivery technologies. Yet, other areas of possible investment, such as teachers training, remain largely neglected by the public and private sector.

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