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Wednesday, 12th December 2012
In General Japan News,

Top grades for maths and science in Japanese schools not matched by enthusiasm, survey shows

Maths and science are areas of education which Japanese children excel at when they are nine and ten years old, although their interest in these subjects begins to wane as they get older.

That is according to findings from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study 2011, which assesses academic ability by nationality and whose results were published by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement yesterday (December 11th).

The report found that when children are in fourth grade, or nine and ten years old, their ability to excel at maths and science is matched by their enthusiasm for these subjects.

Elementary school children scored an average 500 points in both subjects in the fourth grade, but this increased to 585 points in maths and 559 in science for Japanese pupils.

Asahi Shimbun quoted Manabu Sato, a professor of education at Gakushuin University in Tokyo, as saying that “since the TIMSS is a survey to assess the proficiency of school curriculum, countries putting the highest priority on entrance exams, such as Japan and South Korea, get high marks".

Some 66 per cent of elementary school children said they enjoyed maths while 83 per cent liked science. These figures dropped to 39 per cent and 53 per cent respectively once the youngsters reached the second year of high school.

Mr Sato suggested that something needs to be done to match the skill level in subjects to pupils' enjoyment of learning.

"In Japan, it is difficult to make eagerness higher. There is the need for the country to stress the meaningfulness of learning," he said.

A recent survey conducted by Rakuten Research revealed that of 1,000 Japanese parents of young children, some 86.6 per cent of them were unhappy with the way in which English is being taught in schools.

The level of teaching is not indicative of a lack of interest from parents, however, as the same survey also showed that 93.6 per cent of those questioned would like their children to have a global perspective on life.

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