Schools dropping kanji test

The Yomiuri Shimbun
KYOTO–The number of schools that use the kanji aptitude test certificate in their entrance exams or curriculums may drop by about 30 percent due to a scandal involving the Japan Kanji Aptitude Test Foundation, according to a survey conducted by The Yomiuri Shimbun.
The former director of the foundation, Noboru Okubo, and his son were arrested earlier this month over breach of trust. The kanji body replaced the senior Okubo with a lawyer, who has been working to keep the test in use among the schools.
The kanji organization’s Web site shows that more than 1,000 universities and high schools across the nation have used the kanji test certificate as an evaluative index in entrance exams. Many primary, middle and high school students also have taken the kanji test as a group.
Among 87 primary, middle and high schools nationwide surveyed between the end of April and mid-May, 26 schools said they would no longer take the kanji test in a group or accept it as course credit from this academic year.
Fukuoka Jogakuin Junior and Senior High School in Fukuoka explained that it could not take the test in a group for at least this year due to the impact of the scandal.
Yonago Shoin High School in Yonago, Tottori Prefecture, said though it does not regard the kanji test itself as problematic, it is hesitant about providing a school facility as a venue for the test.
Ayaha High School in Kusatsu, Shiga Prefecture, decided to no longer accept credit for the test or use it as an index for entrance exams, saying it cannot oblige the students to take it while the situation with the testing organization and the scandal remain unresolved.
On the other hand, 55 schools, or 63 percent, plan to continue using the test.
Taisei High School in Mitaka, Tokyo, expressed hope that the kanji body would conduct reforms.
Doshisha Kori High School in Neyagawa, Osaka Prefecture, said it would not be easy to stop using the test as many students had put a lot of effort into preparing for it, though a final decision will be made depending on developments.
The kanji test started in 1975, when the foundation was created, and currently is held three times a year throughout the nation. Last year, 2.89 million people took the test, the highest number in its history.
The upcoming test, scheduled for June 21, is expected to attract 30 percent fewer applicants, compared with the same period the previous year.
Akio Kioi, the new director of the foundation, said: “Prospective kanji test applicants naturally are disappointed and angry. We’re grateful that many schools are continuing to use the test under such circumstances.”
Hirohito Komiyama, an authority on education, said: “The criminal case was fraud privately conducted by the former director and his son. We should levelheadedly differentiate those acts with the meaning of the kanji test. Otherwise, the social loss outweighs the criminal case.”
(May. 27, 2009)

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