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Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012

LIFELINES

Ill-prepared schools put returner, family in tough spot


In response to our recent two-part series on education ("Rejoining school system in Japan after time away can be tough" and "Acceptance — social and otherwise — a crucial issue for Japan returnee kids," Jan. 10 and 17), Rosie decided to share the story of her daughter's difficulties entering the Japanese school system in junior high and trying to get into a public university here:

"We are Japanese descendants but Filipino citizens.

"After completing six years of elementary education in the Philippines, my daughter decided to continue her studies here in Japan.

"She attended a public junior high school in Gifu where they had a special international class for foreign students to learn Japanese and about the culture, but after almost two years she had only learned the language and not the academic subjects needed to be accepted into a public high school.

"Then I learned that this was their first case of a Filipino student planning to enter university, because all foreigners at that school work after junior high.

"Luckily, my daughter was accepted to a prestigious high school in Gifu. I considered this her first formal Japanese education. She was crying, failing examinations and had to deal with bullies (though not as bad as when she was in junior high).

"This year she was chosen to be recommended to a national university (in the Tokai area) in lieu of the normal center test (sentā shiken) and entrance test. She passed the first screening, considered to be the most difficult part of the process. The second screening was an interview and essay writing (English article to be summarized in Japanese), her two best skills. Later I was shocked to hear that she had failed! The school and students were also shocked, but my daughter most of all. It was like she died on that day and I died with her.

"I didn't know how to answer her 'whys' so I visited the school to ask.

"At first the person in charge said that they don't release scores or results but I told her I needed to give my daughter an answer.

"She said that my daughter failed in the second screening and I asked why. She opened the file and looked shocked. She talked to her supervisor about it and when she came back to me, she said that the result was based on the first screening and second screening.

"I asked 'why?' again, and what the purpose was of having two screenings? She was irritated and blurted out, 'At the end of everything, we will decide who will be accepted!'

"Before my daughter was recommended, we had met with her high school advisor and he told me it's impossible for her to enter national universities because they follow 'old rules.' I didn't believe him and told him that this was the 21st century, and we are talking of universities and professors who are intellectuals and understand what globalization is all about.

"He just listened and made everything possible for my daughter to be recommended.

"On the center test, as expected, my daughter got low scores in math, biology (it was very difficult for her to decipher some of the technical terms), ethics and world history (she had only studied it for a year as one subject). She only had two mistakes on her English and listening tests, so she has to look for a university where the entrance examination will put more weight on English. We have to go as far as Akita, Shizuoka, Yamaguchi and Chiba. I don't know what will happen to us this coming March. I think our decision to allow her to come here and continue her studies was not the right decision at all."

Have you had a similar experience to Rosie and her daughter? Please let us know.

Janet Johnson is looking for the author of the textbook "Guess What?" published in 1993.

"I have contacted the publisher, Macmillan LanguageHouse Ltd., Tokyo. Despite having published the above-mentioned book, they have no information about the book or the author, David Burleigh. I just need the tape or transcripts to fill in blanks."

If you can help Janet, please email her at hellojj@gol.com.

Ashley Thompson writes survival tips and unique how-tos about living in Japan at www.survivingnjapan.com. Send questions, queries, problems and posers to lifelines@japantimes.co.jp


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