Monitor Correspondence High Schools to Ensure Quality Education Standards

The number of correspondence high schools where students can study at their own pace is increasing, and the students who study at such schools are becoming more diverse. Inadequate education has become a problem at some correspondence high schools, and it is important to secure quality of education by enhancing monitoring.

The number of correspondence high schools exceeds 250, tripling in the past 30 years. An increasing amount of such schools have been recruiting students from across the country since 2003, when corporations became allowed to run schools in special zones for structural reform.

Before, students 20 and over were noticeable, but currently, students aged between 15 and 18 account for 80%. In addition to students who were truant or dropped out of high school, some students seek flexibility in their studies because they are engaged in sports, cultural or entertainment activities.

This probably represents how the role of correspondence high schools, which were institutionalized to provide educational opportunities to young people who went out to work after World War II, has been changing with the times.

With the increase in the number of correspondence high schools, problematic cases have become more conspicuous. According to a survey by the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry, there were cases in which students were regarded as having taken biology or chemistry classes simply by taking a walk in nature while special activity credits were given to students who did part-time jobs.

Even if such cases were reported at only certain schools, it may be said the education is too sloppy. Improvement is needed urgently. In the past, there were incidents that evolved into criminal cases such as a school operator official being accused of defrauding the government of subsidies for assisting students to attend.

At correspondence schools, students study via the internet and broadcast technology, and have in-person interviews and examinations on weekends and during summer holidays. Students can also receive instruction at satellite facilities set up by the schools in various parts of the country, but many schools are unable to provide sufficient hands-on lessons and experiments due to a lack of equipment.

Many correspondence high schools are affiliated with private support schools that assist students’ learning. Because the support schools are run by cram schools and nonprofit organizations, it is difficult for administrative entities to grasp the situation. In some cases, staff at support schools provide in-person guidance, which should be provided by the correspondence high schools.

The central and local governments should develop a system that enables them to provide appropriate guidance and supervision to correspondence high schools.

The ministry said it will soon revise ordinances to oblige correspondence high schools to disclose information. It will seek for schools to draw up an annual guidance plan and make it public to students and others. The ministry also plans to set unified standards for satellite facilities and encourage correspondence schools to improve their educational environments.

Such moves are expected to lead to improving the educational level of correspondence high schools. Students will also be able to find out if they can receive the guidance and support that suits their needs, which will help them choose a correspondence high school.

The novel coronavirus pandemic has increased interest in education by correspondence. In addition to ensuring the quality, a detailed education tailored to each student is necessary.