Education and Values: Lessons From Japan




Singapore has a world-class education system no doubt, but there are lessons to be learnt from many other successful education systems around the world. Japan is one of them. Visit Japan and it’s hard not to be amazed by their polite culture and values. It would be good if our students in Singapore can embrace such values and mindsets.



Souji is a task that all Japanese elementary school students partake. This involves 15 minutes every day cleaning not just their classrooms but corridors and every area of the school. In fact, in many elementary schools in Japan there are no janitors. The students themselves clean windows, empty the trash and even scrub toilets. Why? The students take pride in their school. They want to keep it conducive for everyone. From young, students develop a high level of civic responsibility. Souji has the added benefit of teaching kids to help out in household chores.


No Canteen

Japanese schools don’t have canteens. Where do they eat then? In the classrooms of course. Students and teachers eat together in classrooms. Meals are cooked in a kitchen which are then brought to the classrooms by students themselves. They are also given roles and responsibilities. The Japanese believe such exercises make children feel gratitude towards the food that nourishes them. In essence, every kid is taught to appreciate food from young and to never waste a single grain.


Students are teachers too

Consider a math lesson in Japan. It starts with the teacher teaching the students how to solve a question first. Then the teacher will check the students answers and students are then asked to check their other students who finish later.

The student simulates the role of a teacher. This method allows the students to apply and re-apply what they have learnt, by explaining to another student how to solve a math problem. This reinforces learning.