Japanese Education System
The Japanese education system is comprised of elementary school (6 years), junior high school (3 years), senior high school (3 years), junior college (2 years), or university (4 years), and graduate school (2+ years), and there are national, public, and private educational institutions. While 9 years of elementary and junior high education (age 6-15) are compulsory, many children are enrolled in nursery schools or kindergartens before that. The school year usually runs from April to March, and from elementary school to senior high school, one year is divided into 3 terms, from April to July, September to December, and January to March (however, recently there is an increase in schools that have incorporated the semester system used in universities), and universities and colleges have a semester system (April to September, October to March).
Features of Nursery Schools
Nursery facilities provide child care for infants from 0 years old to preschool age, and are child welfare facilities where parents who are having difficulty taking care of their child at home for work or health reasons can safely leave their children. The facilities provide support for parents who plan to return to full-time work after their maternity leave or child-care leave ends, or for those who wish to begin working.
Currently in Fukuoka City, there are 7 public (municipal) nursery schools (hoikuen) and 209 private nursery schools, in addition to childcare facilities that provide care to small grouops of infants from age 0 to 2, where certified infant-care specialists (hoikushi) care for these children. Nursery schools do not take prolonged breaks, such as summer vacations.
Fees are established according to the amount of municipal taxes paid, and also vary according to the child’s age and whether siblings attend together. For accredited nursery schools, fees for public and private schools are the same.
Nursery School Hours
Nursery schools are usually open from 7:00 to 18:00 from Monday to Saturday. The hours that facilities can be used depend on parents' working hours, etc. Some nursery schools also provide extended-hours care, night care, holiday care, or temporary care (child care service for parents who are temporarily unable to care for their children due to work, sickness, or ceremonial functions). For details, please inquire with individual nursery facilities or the Child Rearing Support Section of your ward office.
Period and Method of Application
For children requiring care from the beginning of the school year (April), application forms are distributed at each nursery facility and the Child Rearing Support Section at each ward office from about late October of the previous year. After you submit all the necessary documents to your desired facility by the set date, you will find out whether your child has been accepted or not, and after that, a briefing session will be held. Note that application deadlines, etc. differ every year. If you wish to enroll your child in the middle of the school year, please inquire with the nursery school or the Child Rearing Support Section of your ward office.
* Be sure to visit each and speak to the staff at each facility you wish to apply at before submitting your applications.
- Child Rearing Support Sections in ward offices
- Fukuoka City Child Care Association
6F Fukuoka City Citizen Welfare Plaza 3-3-39 Arato, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka
Features of a Kindergarten
While nursery schools are provided under the Child Welfare Act, kindergartens are administered under the School Education Act, and follow the kindergarten education guideline which focuses on learning through various recreational activities. Currently in Fukuoka City, there are 7 public (municipal) kindergartens and 120 private kindergartens, both of which educate children from 3 years old until before they enter elementary school. The period of care depends on the child’s age at the time of enrollment: 1, 2, or 3 years. Kindergartens also have long holidays such as summer vacations, as well as elementary schools. Kindergarten teachers are certified with kindergarten teaching licenses. Meanwhile, unlike nursery schools, fees and other factors are different for public and private kindergartens, which are explained below.
Public (Municipal) Kindergartens
Among the 7 municipal kindergartens in Fukuoka City, most offer 2-year care programs for children aged four and 1-year programs for children aged five, whereas only two places offer 3-year programs for children aged three. Care hours are from 9:00-14:00 on weekdays (from 11:30 on Wednesdays) and are closed on Saturdays, Sundays, and national holidays. Because kindergartens are not based on whether the guardians work or not as in nursery schools, anybody can apply. However, guardians must be able to drop off and pick up their children and make lunches for them every day. The care fee is 7,700 yen per month. Aside from this fee, you must pay a one-time enrollment fee of 5,550 yen and miscellaneous fees such as gym uniforms and picture books (for the fiscal year 2016). Applications for enrollment in April are distributed at each kindergarten in mid-November of the previous year, but the application period and the number of children admitted vary according to each kindergarten, so please inquire with the kindergarten of your choice. Also, you may only apply to one kindergarten, and students are selected by drawing lots.
Additionally, all municipal kindergartens will close by the end of fiscal year 2018. For information on applying for FY 2019, inquire at the Fukuoka City Board of Education Secretariat.
School Guidance Section, Fukuoka City Board of Education
Fukuoka Municipal Kindergartens http://www.fuku-c.ed.jp/schoolhp/kg/
The 120 private kindergartens in the city offer 1-3 year programs for children aged three or older until before they enter elementary school. Care hours vary by kindergarten, but are generally from 9:00-14:00 on weekdays. However, over 90% of kindergartens offer an after-hours care service (azukari hoiku) that run until the late afternoon upon request for an additional fee. Also, approximately half of these kindergartens offer care service during the summer holidays. Like public kindergartens, private kindergartens follow the kindergarten education guideline, but they are also operated by educational or religious institutions which add their distinctive educational policy, thereby showing individuality. Furthermore, 90% of the kindergartens have school buses, and most provide lunches. Monthly fees and one-time enrollment fees vary by kindergarten. Inquire at each kindergarten for details. Also, each kindergarten has a different method for selecting students. To start in April, the applications are accepted from November 1st of the previous year, but distribution of application forms and briefing sessions begin from October 1st. For details, please inquire with the kindergarten of your choice.
* Governmental Financial Support
Fukuoka City offers a financial incentive for private kindergarten enrollment, which exempts enrollment and care fees to households enrolling their children in private kindergartens, so as to reduce the parents’ financial burden and to enhance kindergarten education. To qualify for application, both the guardian and the child must have a resident registration in Fukuoka City, and attend an accredited private kindergarten. The amount of exemption varies according to the income and whether the child has a sibling from kindergarten to grade 3 of elementary school. For details, please inquire with the kindergarten or the Pre-school Administration Section of the Child Affairs Bureau.
- Child Rearing Support Section, Child Affairs Bureau Tel: 092-711-4114
(Fukuoka Children Information) http://www.city.fukuoka.lg.jp/kodomo/
- Fukuoka-City Private Kindergarten Federation http://www.fyr.or.jp/
- Private School Section 2, Private School Promotion Department, Fukuoka Prefecture Tel: 092-643-3130
Public Elementary, Junior High, and Senior High Schools
Elementary and Junior High Schools
To enroll school-age foreign children who have residence in Fukuoka City, you must submit an application in the year before entering elementary school, when a survey for prospective students is conducted (since school education is not compulsory for foreign children). In late September, parents/guardians will be sent a School Attendance Information Letter (Shugaku An'nai Bunsho) and a Notification of Intent to Enrol Foreign Child in School (Gaikokuseki Jido Nyugaku Kibo Todoke). If the Notification of Intent is handed in by the deadline stipulated in the Information Letter (usually around mid-October), then parents/guardians will be sent a School Attendance Notification (Nyugaku Tsuchisho) my mid-January from the Board of Education. For Japanese children who have a residence certificate, the School Attendance Notification is sent automatically. If the notice does not arrive, please contact the Educational Support Section (Kyoiku Shien-ka) of the Board of Education or the Citizen Section (Shimin-ka) of your ward office. When enrolling mid-year, first have the Citizen Section issue a School Transfer Notification (Tennyugaku Tsuchisho), and bring it, along with a Certificate of Enrollment (Zaigaku Shomeisho) from the school which your child is transeferring from, to the school of your choice for subsequent procedures (including an interview with the principal). Moreover, since municipal elementary and junior high schools have school zones, schools are selected based on your address, and therefore, no entrance examination is necessary. Municipal elementary and junior high schools provide textbooks for free, and do not charge for tuition. However, fees are charged to cover actual expenses such as school lunches, school supplies, and school trips. If you have difficulty paying these fees due to economic circumstances, you can apply for the School Expense Assistance Program (shugaku enjo seido). For details, please consult the school or the School Enrollment & Finance Subsection (Gakuji-gakari) of the Educational Support Section (Kyoiku Shien-ka), Fukuoka City Board of Education.
<Inquiries regarding the School Expense Assistance Program (shugaku enjo seido)>
School Enrollment & Finance Subsection, Educational Support Section, Fukuoka City Board of Education
Fukuoka City Board of Education
* High-School-Preparatory Guidance (Shinro Guidance)
For junior high school students and their parents whose native language is not Japanese, private support organizations called Council for Career and Higher Education in Fukuoka (Fukuoka-chiku Shinro Hosho Kyogikai) and For Living Together in Fukuoka City (Tomoni Ikiru Machi Fukuoka no Kai) hold an annual workshop in early August with hopes that these students can advance to a senior high school and make advancement decisions smoothly. The event date and location are set in June, so please contact Joko Junior High School’s “Japanese Classroom” at 092-662-0765.
Senior High School
In Fukuoka City, there are 15 prefectural and 4 municipal senior high schools, all of which require you to pass an entrance examination to be admitted. To take the examination, you need a proof of graduation from a Japanese junior high school (or proof that you will graduate) or proof that you have attended schoolabroad for nine years. As of 1 April 2014, monthly tuition fees are set at 9,900 yen for both prefectural and municipal schools. However, students that have been enrolled at their high school, etc., since before 1 April 2014, are not required to pay a monthly tuition fee when continuing at the same school. Entrance fees, textbook fees, uniform fees, and other miscellaneous fees must still be borne by the individual. You also need to pay to take entrance examinations. For details, please consult the Fukuoka Prefecture or Fukuoka City Board of Education.
School Affairs Section, Senior High School Education Department, Fukuoka Prefecture Board of Education
Fukuoka Prefecture Board of Education
Fukuoka Prefecture Education-Related Information
Private Elementary, Junior High, and Senior High Schools
Unlike public schools, you need to pass the entrance examination even for elementary and junior high schools. As well, tuition and other fees are quite expensive. For details, please inquire with Private School Promotion Department of Fukuoka Prefecture or the school of your choice. For entering senior high schools, it is recommended that you participate in the above-mentioned Preparatory Guidance to gain more information.
Private School Section 1, Private School Promotion Department, Fukuoka Prefecture
In Fukuoka City, there are two public universities (national and prefectural) and 19 private universities and colleges where many international students study. To enter a university, you must meet the following criteria and pass the entrance examination. The average fees for the first year, which includes an entrance fee (first year only), tuition, and facility fee are approximately 820,000 yen for national universities, 940,000 yen for municipal and prefectural universities, and 1,200,000 yen for the liberal arts department at private universities (each department at private universities charges differently). For details, please inquire at the university of your choice.
<Qualifications for University Entrance Examination>
You must fulfill one of the following conditions:
- graduate from a Japanese or foreign senior high school
- pass the University Entrance Qualification Examination
- graduate from an international school that is internationally recognized by an evaluating organization (WASC, ECIS (CIS), ACSI)
- possess an International Baccalaureate Diploma
For details, please refer to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology website.
<Information Regarding Japanese Universities>
Available from JASSO (Japan Student Services Organization)
JASSO also offers support for international students
* University Search
Education in English
In Fukuoka, there is the Fukuoka International School which is recognized by WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) and offers a kindergarten to senior high school curriculum in the American education system, using English. This school is also a member of the International Baccalaureate. For details, please consult the school directly.
Fukuoka International School
(3-18-50 Momochi, Sawara-ku)
Japanese Language Classes
In Fukuoka, there are many Japanese language schools and classes run by volunteers. Because each class offers a different course, you can make a choice according to your goals for learning Japanese. Volunteer classes are usually offered once a week for a few hours, and only the class materials are charged. There are also classes for elementary, junior high, and senior high school students. The Japanese language schools which enable you to acquire a study visa are only the ones that are accredited by the Association for the Promotion of Japanese Language Education. Moreover, some schools offer a short-term course on Japanese language and culture. You can obtain a list of Japanese language classes and schools from Rainbow Plaza. For details, please consult the school or class of your choice.
- Nihongo Class Map (Japanese language classes run by volunteers)
- Association for the Promotion of Japanese Language Education
- Japanese Language Proficiency Test
Japanese Language Support at Elementary and Junior High Schools
Fukuoka City offers a system for students in municipal elementary and junior high schools whose Japanese is not fluent, in which special instructors are dispatched for a set period of time to provide one-on-one instruction for everyday conversation and the basic Japanese skills necessary for studying. Also, Japanese language classes are offered at eight elementary schools and in four junior high schools in areas where many foreigners reside, during which instructions are provided on Japanese school life and language needed for studying. For details, please inquire with your school or the Fukuoka City Board of Education.
Academic Guidance Consultations for Children from Foreign-Language Backgrounds
For junior high school students and their parents whose native language is not Japanese, the NPO known as For Living Together in Fukuoka City (Tomoni Ikiru Machi Fukuoka no Kai) holds an annual workshop every August to assist students in their choice of high school. Inquire directly for more information. Email: email@example.com Phone: 090-5739-3988 (Wada) or 090-5921-7798 (Yoshitani)
Education Support Section, Fukuoka City Board of Education