New book highlights challenges to Japan's educational system

January 14, 2010

University Park, Pa. -- A new book provides unique insight into the complex challenges pressuring Japan's schools. The volume "Challenges to Japanese Education: Economics, Reform, and Human Rights" highlights the struggles that Japan has been going through to reform its educational system.

The book presents essays from leading Japanese scholars translated into English, providing rare access to the Japanese educational system for the international scholarly audience. Penn State's Gerald LeTendre, professor of education policy studies, was one of the team of editors along with June A. Gordon, professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz; Hidenori Fujita professor at International Christian University; and Takehiko Kariya, professor at the University of Oxford.

"What this really brings to the global dialogue," says LeTendre, "are the problems and the issues that Japan has been facing for a long time. They have been going through a series of crises in education, and a real lack of confidence in their education system has arisen over the last twenty years."

The chapters of the book each address different but related issues, providing the English-speaking audience with an understanding of how the Japanese understand their own educational system. Chapters of the book examine such topics as education policy changes, the education of Japan's minorities, social mobility, increased global competition, the future of Japanese education and political influences on education reform.

"One of the lessons from the book that I thought was particularly interesting is that when education becomes politicized, when it becomes fodder for whether a candidate gets elected or not, the education system goes through huge swings, and that really challenges the system as to whether we can provide a quality education to all kids," LeTendre adds.

"Challenges to Japanese Education: Economics, Reform, and Human Rights" is published by Teachers College Press

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Last Updated January 09, 2015