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February 04, 2004

English To Be Compulsory at Primary Level?

The education ministry is considering making English a compulsory subject in primary schools, according to a source mentioned in yesterday's Daily Yomiuri. A panel will be established to examine the results achieved in 16 deregulatory zones that have introduced an English curriculum over the last two years and make a decision based on its findings by the 2005 school year. The most often quoted "special reform zone" is that of Ota City in Gunma Prefecture, which was granted government approval last year to open a new elementary through senior high school with a curriculum taught largely in English. The Yomiuri article mentioned that over 50% of public primary schools were providing English classes as of the last academic year. It also pointed out that there are those who question the introduction of English at an earlier stage of the education system, fearing it will cause further deterioration in Japanese language skills and clog up an already busy five-day school week.

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