Education Minister Hakubun Shimomura has proposed revising school curriculum guidelines to mandate beginning English education for 3rd graders, as well as Japanese history courses for high school students.
Shimomura made the proposals this week at a meeting of the Central Council for Education, which is tasked with formulating revised education guidelines by 2016, for implementation in school curricula from fiscal 2020, TBS reported.
The guidelines are revised every 10 years.
Shimomura suggested that children should begin familiarization with the English language as early as the third year of elementary school (two years earlier than in the current curriculum), after which a regimented English curriculum would begin in the fifth year.
He said the goal is to have junior high school students proficient in English, which will, in turn, help make Japan more competitive on the global stage, TBS reported.
Shimoura said he hopes junior high students will develop their English capability to the point that by the time they are seniors, they will be able to make presentations in near native-level English, as well as partake in challenging debates with their fellow students.
The education ministry plans to hire more foreign teachers and utilize the Test in Practical English Proficiency (Eiken) to certify Japanese teachers of English.
Also proposed was making Japanese history courses mandatory for high school students as opposed to an elective.
Shimomura also discussed promoting "Active Learning," a new learning style through which students of every level would be encouraged to exercise more independence in addressing and finding solution to problems.© Japan Today