A Local Perspective on Life in Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.

Tsuchiura Nihon University Secondary School and a new school in Namiki

Yesterday was the entrance ceremony for Tsuchiura Nihon University Secondary School(土浦日本大学中等教育学校) , and it made the news. Why? Because it’s the first 中高一貫校(chuu-kou-ikkan-kou, or a junior and senior high schools combined six-year education system) in Ibaraki Prefecture*.

*There are already Meikei Junior and High Schools in Tsukuba, but it looks like they are not considered a “chuu-kou-ikkan-kou” because their junior and high school program aren’t integrated.

Tsuchiura Nihon University(Tsuchiura Nichidai for short) Secondary School is about 15min drive from Joban Expressway Sakura Tsuchiura Exit, so I know A LOT of kids from Tsukuba take the entrance exams for Tsuchiura Nichidai High School every year. This is a VERY competitive school, so it won’t be easy to get into this school. Now that the Tsuchiura Nichidai is a 中高一貫校, it’ll be even harder to get in(gosh, I can hear the parent’s outcry)!!

What’s making the parents in Ibaraki more excited is the opening of the first PUBLIC “chuu-kou-ikkan-kou” in Namiki here in Tsukuba next year! According to the newspaper article I read, 2600 parents flocked to one of the informational meetings held earlier this year. What’s scary about this is that the informational meeting was open ONLY to the parents of 5th graders(currently 6th) in Ibaraki who will be the inaugural members! Another public 中高一貫校 will be in Mito City, but that won’t be open until the spring of 2010. The new school will offer school bus services to students who live far away from school, so the parents from all over Ibaraki are desperate to find out more about Namiki Chuu-kou-ikkan-kou.

So where will this new school be? It’s actually already in Namiki. The current Namiki High School will become the first 中高一貫校! The official name for the new school hasn’t been announced yet, but is scheduled to be announced around September of this year. The first 120 students will enter this new secondary school next spring, but in exchange, the new school will gradually reduce the number of high school students that they’ll accept. In 2011, they’ll completely stop accepting high school students, so there’ll be no more infamous high school entrance exams for this new school. In fact, there are some parents who are interested in this new school only because there’s no entrance exam when their kids advance to 4th year of education, or high school part of the secondary school system.

If you live in Namiki area, and if you (or your kids) aren’t interested in going through the hassles of school entrance preparation or don’t see the benefit of going to this new(unknown) school, then the kids who live in Namiki area will enter Namiki Junior High School as usual. No, Namiki Junior High School won’t be closed when the new school starts, so there will still be a junior high school for the area kids to attend.

Quite a lot of new public chuu-kou-ikkan-kous will be opening next spring, and more and more 中高一貫校s, both public and private, are scheduled to be opened in the near future. Why all this hype all the sudden, you may ask. It’s because a legislation was passed in 1998 which enabled the introduction of lower and upper secondary school in 1999. Besides, many kids and parents aren’t happy with the current Yutori-Kyoiku(ゆとり教育, or “more relaxed/less pressure” education system), so the parents want to choose where their kids get their education. I’ve talked to some junior high kids before, and even they told me that they were envious of current elementary school kids who have more options.

So, what do you think, parents? If you are going to be in Tsukuba area for long time, this is something you’ll need to worried about. Tour of the school will be held for prospective students this summer. You may be getting something in the mail if your kids are in 6th or 5th grade, so don’t miss out important notices!