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Home2020 IssuesIssue 468 - Jan 2020Japan postpones new tests

Japan postpones new tests

Education minister Koichi Hagiuda has postponed controversial plans to introduce private English tests – including Japan’s Eiken test and ETS’s Toefl – alternatives to the state’s National Center Test for University Admissions. The announcement to postpone was made in November.

Shortly before the announcement, Hagiuda had apologised for stating that “people should choose to compete for university places in accordance with their standing,” a comment widely disparaged as discriminating against poor and rural students.

Prime minister Shinzo Abe later told parliamentarians that he was sorry for, “the trouble the postponement has caused to students who were preparing for the tests, and to officials concerned,” NHK reported.

The proposed introduction of these relatively expensive private English tests was due to begin in academic year 2020. Students would have unlimited opportunities to do practice runs for these in the first and second years of high school, with the results counting towards their English scores for university admission. Access to test centres, however, could favour wealthier students and those from urban centres.

According to The Mainichi newspaper, the entire plan to have private English tests count towards university admission will now be reviewed, with a “new system” of English exams for university entry (with or without the private tests option) now expected to be adopted in 2024.

Matt Salusbury
Matt Salusbury
MATT SALUSBURY, news editor and journalist, has worked for EL Gazette since 2007. He is also joint Chair of the London Freelance Branch of the National Union of Journalists and co-edits its newsletter, the Freelance. He taught English language for 15 years in the Netherlands, in Turkey, in a North London further education college and now as an English for Academic Purposes tutor, most recently at the London School of Economics. He is a native English speaker and is also fluent in Dutch.
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