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Estimated 330,000 junior high kids have tendency, desire to skip class: NPO survey

TOKYO -- An estimated 330,000 junior high school students, one in every ten students in Japan, had a tendency or desire to skip classes for one reason or another, the results of a survey by a non-profit philanthropic organization released on Dec. 12 showed.

The number of students not attending schools known to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology stands at 108,999 nationwide as of the 2017 academic year, but the survey by the Nippon Foundation covered a wider range of cases. The ministry defines non-attendance as being "absent for 30 days or more of the year," but the private survey also checked on students who come to the nurse's office or other areas of the school but do not attend classes, or expressed a strong hope to skip classes.

"It is the first time anyone has shed light on the existence of students on the verge of not coming to school," said foundation member Mizue Masukata.

While the ministry depends on reports from junior highs or municipal boards of education in putting together the number of students not attending school, the Nippon Foundation survey questioned the students directly to learn about their actual status and their feelings about the situation. To do so, an online questionnaire was used, made available for the month of October, and it gathered responses from 6,450 junior high school students.

The Nippon Foundation used the percentages of responses to the survey to extrapolate the number of students have a tendency or desire of not attending class nationwide, based on the fact there are 3,250,000 junior high school students in Japan.

According to these calculations, the number of students who did not attend classes for more than one week consecutively stood at 1.8 percent, which would be equivalent to 59,921 students around the country. An estimated 130,703 students were estimated to stay at school nurse's or principal's offices, be late for classes, leave school early more than five days a month or have other conditions, making up 4.0 percent of the responses. There were also 4.4 percent of respondents who still attended classes, but did so with great difficulty, which makes for an equivalent of 142,161 students across Japan.

As for why the students who responded to the survey said they did not want to go to school, "I don't understand the classes," stood out as one of the most common answers.

Shikou Ishii, chief editor at Tokyo Bureau of non-profit "Zenkoku Futoko Shimbun Sha" (National newspaper company for children not attending school) served as an adviser for the Nippon Foundation's survey. He commented, "What the government understands of children not attending school is only the tip of the iceberg. The situation is serious because some kids are only connected with their schools by coming to school offices outside of their classrooms."

(Japanese original by Kenichi Mito, City News Department)

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