More Schooling Opportunities for Foreign Children in Japan, But 10,000 May Still be Absent

Japan Data

Education Family Lifestyle Society


A survey by Japan’s ministry of education found that approximately 10,000 out of 133,310 non-Japanese children living in the country, of an age where education is compulsory, are either not attending or are likely not attending school. Even though this number has halved since the last survey in 2019, it indicates there are still insufficient educational opportunities available for some foreign children.

In May 2021, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology ran a survey targeting local boards of education in 1,741 municipalities across Japan, in order to assess the school attendance of children who were foreign nationals.

The number of non-Japanese children of compulsory educational age totaled 133,310, with 93,474 equivalent to elementary school age and 39,836 equivalent to junior high school age. It was confirmed that 120,070 of those children were attending either elementary, junior high, or international schools. Looking at the other children, 649 were “not attending” school, 8,597 “could not be contacted to confirm attendance”, and the attendance of 800 was “not confirmed,” meaning a possible 10,046 children were not receiving schooling. While this number has been halved since the first nationwide survey was conducted in 2019, schooling conditions still cannot be regarded as sufficient to ensure foreign children have opportunities to gain an education.

Although compulsory education does not apply to non-Japanese children, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology is requesting that each local board of education ensures there are opportunities for those children to attend school, based on international covenants on human rights. Since the 2019 survey, many local authorities have created registers of school-age children and have been sending out information on how to enroll at school, which has led to a clearer picture of the current situation regarding attendance.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Pixta.)

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