Misconceptions about IB Education in Japan
Many people who have never visited or lived in Japan often have misconceptions about Japan’s education system and Japanese society, in general. Some examples of these misconceptions are that Japan does not have IB schools or that international schools in Japan are very expensive. In fact, Japan has many international schools and this number is increasing each year. In 2011, the Japanese government initiated the “IB 200 Schools Project”. The plan is to make pre-college International Baccalaureate programmes available nationwide by 2023.
“IB 200 Schools Project”: making pre-college International Baccalaureate programmes available nationwide by 2023
Although the intended target of this initiative is at the high school level (DP), there has been a surge of elementary (PYP) and middle school (MYP) programmes being established throughout Japan in recent years. According to the IB World Schools Yearbook, Japan currently has 85 IB World Schools, with 55 authorised to offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma. Some schools offer the IB Diploma alongside Japanese, English, Canadian or French programmes. There are also several Christian religious foundations as well as schools serving the Korean and Indian communities. The IB World Schools Yearbook also states that Japan has a well-established international school sector that is centred around Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka, but international schools and IB programmes are available in many other prefectures.
Most expatriate children are educated at international schools and English is the medium of instruction in most of those international schools. Most schools are co-educational day programmes; however, the number of boarding schools is increasing and most have IB based programmes. It will surprise most parents to learn that the tuition of the average private or international school in Japan is less than half of the cost as it would be in the US and Europe. Thus, as a result of financial support and government efforts, Japan now has some of the best and most reasonably priced IB schools in the world.