How Are K-12 Schools Different In Japan Compared to the US?

The education offered in the West and Eastern hemispheres varies greatly especially when it comes to the structural system. Although most countries and territories nowadays follow the K-12 system, the type of students produced and the testing results reared shows interesting divergence especially between the Asian and American educational organization. Two countries that have showed excellent and indomitable outcomes are unsurprisingly, the technological super powers United States of America and Japan.

The K-12 educational scheme in general, is composed of 13 years of supposedly compulsory education. At about age five to six, children should be sent to school by their parents to the universal kindergarten program. Upon completion of this undertaking, they are then on sent to another 12 years divided into elementary, middle or junior high school and senior high school. One of the more obvious differences between Japan and US's K-12 schools is that the elementary education takes a year longer in the first and the senior high school takes another additional year in the latter. To sum it up, Japan follows the 6-3-3 system, while America has a 5-3-4 organizational structure.

This lies greatly on the quality of education and the presence of quality teaching personnel. Japan has one of the best educational systems in the entire world and is known for the high quality of graduates produced. In international mathematical aptitude examinations, Japan almost always makes it to the top, or if not, nothing past the top five spots. Over 95 percent of Japanese students are literate despite facts that show that the Japanese language is among the hardest to learn, though America has a record of 97%. It is also believed that on average, upon graduating senior high school, Japanese students have already attained the education of an American second year college student.

When it comes to the issue of educators and other teaching staff, Japan and America almost has the same quality of teaching personnel but differ greatly in numbers. America has a lacking number of educators but the fact is inevitable given the large educational population. However, comparing the ratio of specialized teaching personnel to number of students, Japan rates poorly compare to the Western countries.

The weight of high school education in Japan is also a large dictator when it comes to future jobs and opportunities of a student unlike in the United States where more importance is given to college education. Yearly, millions of Japanese students go to review institutions to pass prestigious high schools and achieve high examination scores. These records would appear later when they would try to land a job in the professional world.

This can also be credited to the subjects taken. The American curriculum offers almost equal importance to courses in mathematics, science, history, English, humanities and other forms of the arts. Japanese studies on the other hand, specialize in mathematics, science and technology, Japanese culture and history and moral values - one reason why Japan mostly beats American students when it comes to arithmetic and science.

Another disparity between the two systems is its uniformity. The American educational system varies greatly in different states because of the sovereignty of each state to change their curriculum. Meanwhile, the Japanese K12 system follows a uniform curriculum drafted out by the Ministry of Education. By this nationalized scheme they follow, Japanese students receive the same subjects and lessons although somehow on different notes of efficiency and intensity of learning in different schools.