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February 06, 2003

Half of Primary Schools Teaching English

In a white paper released this week, the education ministry said survey results show that more than 50% of the nation's public primary and middle schools have introduced English conversation classes for students in the third grade or above. But the number of hours taught per year are still low, with only 1% of schools teaching sixth graders more than 35 hours annually, the equivalent of one hour a week. 30% of schools taught less than 10 hours per year. The survey also showed that class sizes have become smaller and more classes are being increasingly tailored to students' levels. The report said that Japanese students' performance is reasonably good but, compared to other OECD countries, there are fewer students with high academic ability.

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