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Why were 70% of the students absent?

>On February 1, 70% of the sixth graders attending an elementary school in Tokyo were absent. This was not due to an illness going around and some natural calamity. They were all busy taking entrance exams for private junior high schools.

The Tokyo metropolitan area has 177 private junior high schools, and approximately 140,000 students took exams for private junior high schools in 2006. According to a leading cram school that prepares students for the exam, this year saw a record number of examinees. In Tokyo and the three surrounding prefectures, one in six sixth-graders takes an exam to enter a private junior school. The absentee rate is high on February 1 because many of these exams are held on this day. Furthermore, some students not only miss school on exam day, but are absent for an extended period during exam time because they do not want to risk catching a cold from a classmate and for other such reasons.

The popularity of private junior high schools can be attributed to the growing dissatisfaction with public schools, the economic recovery, and increasing parental zeal to give their child the best education possible. With the introduction of the five-day school week in public schools in 2002, students are free on Saturday and Sunday, but this has also reduced curriculum and what students are expected to learn. On the other hand, private junior high schools, which can choose their own curriculum, hold classes on Saturday and many continue to offer the heavy curriculum that was standard in the past. Parents clearly think that the curriculum of public junior schools is not adequately preparation for entering university. Entering a private junior school, however, places a considerable burden on the household budget, costing an average of 900,000 yen, including school fees, an entrance fee, a facility fee, etc., in addition to a donation and expenditures for extracurricular activities. Nevertheless, as the number of children declines, more parents are willing to pay these education expenses.

So, with 70% of the students absent on February 1, how did the students who attended school as usual spend the day? According to the press, they watched movies such as the Disney animation film, Finding Nemo, reviewed what they had covered so far, but did not move ahead in their textbooks. This must have been out of consideration for the absent students, but wasn't anyone thinking of the students who were present?

As the number of children declines with the falling birthrate, more students will be taking the exam to enter a private junior high school. Studying for the entrance exam affects children's development and their relationships with friends and parents. With this mind, this is definitely a Children's Issue that should be considered from the perspectives of Child Science.
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