The teachers are very overworked, often starting extremely early and running clubs on evenings and weekends. I met several teachers who had been working a seven-day week for nearly two months without a day off. Students have to attend school on Saturday morning, and often n Sunday.
The science lesson I observed was alarming. Students were holding sealed Coke cans above bunsen burners - but holding them with rags, one of which I saw catch fire. One of the two exits to the packed classroom was locked while all the students did this experiment at the same time.
English was a matter of reading by rote and it is here that the Japanese are beginning to realise the limitations of their approach to education. Even though all children have to study English at school, virtually no adult can speak English. This is a factor that politicians say they are keen to address, but no significant changes are forthcoming.
Jeremy Fox, St Maur international school, Yokohama, Japan