Third Year Blues

Ayako Ishiwari
Kuki Higashi Middle School

There is something looming in the minds of all third year junior high school students. It dwells there from the very first day we enter junior high and brews throughout our stay. I'm a third grade student and I'm forever worried about my future. The reason for the anxiety is clearly the high school entrance examination.

Previously, I believed that examinations gave a radiance of hope, but now I feel the fear and despair within my peers and I. We look at our seniors and see that only a few of them are attending the schools that they really wanted. Their initial choices were eliminated by the examination system. The elimination process starts early on, as classmates who do not perform well in tests feel overwhelmed. The entry requirements of schools are well known, but even so it is depressing to see friends setting their sights low from the beginning. It is difficult to, "Be ambitious," when my seniors fail and my classmates despair.

There are many questions and frustrations inside the current system. Why should we have to take an exam to enter into a high school? In addition, we have to spend our own money to attend a public school, shouldn't it be free like junior high? Why should we have to commute outside of our hometown for a public education?

I have spoken to Americans about high schools in their country. They report that high school education is compulsory, so you don't need pay to attend a public high school. Also, the students usually attend public school near their homes, so they do not have to commute out of their city for a public high school. In addition there are also no entrance examinations. I was very envious of this system.

Japan can make many changes that will ease the stress on us. If students were allowed to ascend to a high school within their town, we could introduce split-level classes. The split-level system would have advanced and regular level classes. This would be beneficial for a student that excelled in one area, such as science, because then that student could take advanced courses in science, while attending standard level classes in other areas. Other more talented individuals could attempt taking all advanced courses. This system would provide the additional advantages of not requiring hours of commuting, and it would not destroy friendships that we have build for the past nine years. The current examination system puts stress and pressure on us to succeed, but it can break us too. A system should give us confidence and a freer heart, not pressure and stress.

I know that some may tell me to "Mind my own Business," but since I'm a third grade student, this is my business and my heart reaching out. I know my classmates are filled with anxiety as well. When I'm in the classroom, the stress and pressures of my classmates and I are almost suffocating. We don't want this anxiety, we only want freedom of our hearts.

That is why I am asking, "Please, let's reconsider our education system."

(1st Prize in the 53rd Contest, 2001)


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