Tokyo, May 19 (Jiji Press)–The Japanese government is considering a plan that would see the enrollment age of students gradually shift over a five-year period to accommodate the envisioned change to the timing to start the school year in the country, it was learned Monday.
The plan is part of a proposal to move the beginning of the academic year from April at present to September, partly aimed at dealing with prolonged emergency school closures nationwide for preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Under the current spring enrollment system, six-year-old children born between April 2 and April 1 the following year are admitted as first-grade students in elementary school. The government is seeking to address the mismatch between the academic year and the period of eligibility for enrollment that would occur if it decides to start the school year in September.
The plan, presented to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s working team for considering the September admission system, would see students born during 13-month periods be enrolled as first-grade students, so that the birth period for enrollment eligibility would begin in September five years later, according to informed sources.
Specifically, first-grade students for the academic year starting September 2021 would be born between April 2 and May 1 the following year, while students for the academic year starting September 2022 would be born between May 2 and June 1 the following year. The start of the birth period will become Sept. 2 in the academic year starting in September 2026, from which the length of the birth period will be reverted to 12 months.
Creating such a transition period would be effective in avoiding a sharp increase of new students, but seeing the scope of first-graders change every year may cause confusion among involved parties, observers said.
The plan is one of several options being considered by the government. Other plans include keeping the birth period for enrollment eligibility the same as at present, from April 2 to April 1 the following year, and accepting all children born between April 2 and Sept. 1 the following year as new students in September 2021. The latter plan would see students born over a 17-month period be enrolled at once, with the number of first-grade students estimated to go up by around 400,000.
The LDP is expected to compile a proposal for the government by early June on the possible shift to the September admission system, after collecting opinions from people related to the matter, the sources said.