Have you ever wondered if your life would have been happier if you’d gone to a more prestigious university? We adults know from experience that happiness in life doesn’t hinge on whether you go to a “good school.” But when it comes to our own kids, many of us still hope they will at least be able to go to a decent university.
A survey conducted by Benesse Educational Research and Development Institute found that 78% of 11-year-olds thought that going to a “good” university would guarantee them a happy life in the future, up 17 points from nine years ago. According to Asahi (1/29), the survey of 2,601 11-year-olds, 2,699 14-year-olds, and 4,426 17-year-olds was administered across Japan in 2015. The same survey was conducted in 1990, 1996, 2001, and 2006. The percentage of 14-year-olds who felt the same way also increased by 16 points from 2006 to 61%, and the percentage of 17-year-olds rose 13 points to 51%.
Meanwhile, according to Nikkei (1/29), the same survey found that the amount of time children spend studying outside school on weekdays is sharply increasing, with the hours 17-year-olds crack the books outside schools up for the first time since the initial survey in 1990. The study time of 11-year-olds was the longest at 95.8 minutes per day on average, while the study time of 14-year-olds was 90.0 minutes and that of 17-year-olds was 84.4 minutes. According to Benesse, the major reason for this phenomenon is an increase in the volume of homework, since “doing homework” accounted for 52.0% of the time 11-year-olds spent studying outside school, up from 44.2% in 2006, and 50.3% of the time 14-year-olds spent studying, up from 44.5% in 2006. According to the institute, the increase in the volume of homework can be attributed to the start of the National Assessment of Academic Ability in 2007, which intensified competition among schools.
The survey also found that 57.8% of 11-year-olds, 60.7% of 14-year-olds, and 66.8% of 17-year-olds felt that studying would help them “become rich.” These figures represent an increase of more than 10 points from the last survey in 2006 across all the age groups. In addition, 71% of 11-year-olds, 58% of 14-year-olds, and 63% of 17-year-olds said they wanted to “join a blue-chip company and land a top job.” Asahi quoted Ochanomizu University Professor Hiroaki Mimizuka, who analyzed the survey results, as pointing out: “The Ministry of Education has shifted its focus from yutori kyoiku [education designed to ease the pressure on students by reducing curriculum hours and content], to education that emphasizes academic skills. Children are probably beginning to sense from their schools and parents the value of studying and a good academic background.” However, he also pointed out that the recent increase in the amount of study time is mainly driven by schools and stressed the need to increase the quality of education so that children will want to study of their own accord.