Monday, February 16, 2004

More on entrance exams

It is a cold and snowy day here in the Suzukas. It is supposed to warm up to about 10 degrees, but this morning is cold.

I posted on entrance exams earlier, but here is another twist I had never heard of before. High schools giving or selling their students' records to cram schools. This articlesays that some schools routinely give or sell their students' exam results to "prep schools." (That's a pretty presumtuous term and does not mean the same thing in an English context. I will use the term "cram school.") This is supposed to help the cram schools prepare their students for entrance exams more effectively, a benefit that public schools profit from it seems. The article also says that neither schools nor cram schools seek the permission of the students or students' parents before exchanging such valuable information. This is an invasion of minors' rights to privacy, and also a violation of prefectures' prohibitions on such kinds of exchange.

Where does the money go? Into the principals' pockets? The teachers'? If anyone is going to profit from this system, why isn't it the people who paid for extra classes and the exams, the students' parents? Isn't it illegal for public servants to accept bribes?

There was one comment that I loved, in the final paragraph. One principal says that the cram schools can produce "very precise data" from the numbers that they give, and that in turn benefits their students. Well it certainly doesn't benefit the students who will graduate from their school this March. It certainly doesn't benefit their parents who paid big money to send their children to the cram schools. The only people who profit from it directly will be the principals and the cram school operators. "We receive cash rewards for your exam records for your own good." Sound a little screwy to you?

Just another example of the ways in which the exam system here serves the already wealthy and powerful, and creates a hegemony that promises, "If you play the game and pay with your time and your money, maybe someday you too will be able to profit directly from this scam."

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