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Okinawa schools get failing grades

Date Posted: 2007-11-01

Okinawa children are performing at the worst levels of any kids in Japan, finishing last in nationwide achievement test scores.

The test results showed Okinawa children finishing at the bottom of the country in Japanese language and mathematics, as well as six other subjects. Results of the April 24th exams were released by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Of the nation’s 22,000 elementary schools, 10,500 were involved, testing 2,250,000 students.

Okinawa student scores averaged 5~15 points below others. Conjugation questions were 20 points below the nationwide average in the testing of elementary school and 3rd grade 15-year-olds. “We are definitely in shock about these results,” the Okinawa Board of Education Chairman said. “We have to be concerned about how to make children increase their test scores.” Morikazu Nakamura says “we all have to think carefully.”

Officials say many questions went unanswered by Okinawa students, raising questions of their eagerness to read questions, and then answer. One suggestion was that Okinawans do not have enough patience to deal with difficult questions. A Children’s Life Environment Survey shows that junior high school students don’t study at home, at all.

A survey conducted by a radio station also yielded poor results from Okinawa youngsters. Asked why their test scores and grades were low, students responded “We study enough at school.” Others said “nature is calling us” to the beaches, forests, dive spots or trekking. They said the outdoor activities are a form of educational experience.

Another answer posed by a person involved with the education community says “It’s just the character of the Okinawan people, or maybe a financial problem, too.” The Board of Education is now studying reasons why Okinawan students are so much behind their mainland counterparts.

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