In Japan, learning is not an easy task for students. Even after school, they still need to go to another school to gain extra knowledge on their subjects. These are so-called cram schools which are also known as Gakushu juku. It is derived from the word “gakushu” which means “study” or “learn” and “juku” which means “school.” These are not just ordinary schools but private schools wherein parents have to pay extra amount of money for education.
It is said that, some parents go extra mile and get a second job just so they can send their children to cram schools.
Dating back to the Meiji era where only a few people know English language, there was a particular man who was so excellent in learning that he was able to memorize all words in the English dictionary. It was so great of a success for him that he would often try to memorise words by eating every page of the book hoping that this way he will remember it forever. The extreme dedication to studying started back then. With the coming of years, changes occurred which resulted in the difficulty of university entrance exams. As a way of coping and preparation, parents would want their children study extra hard and thus the cram schools emerged.
Juku has two divisions: academic juku and non-academic juku. Academic juku is primarily attended by preschoolers to high school students. However, students vary in education skills. There will be instances when some would also fail the entrance exams. These students will be given a year to study before taking the remedial examinations. Non-academic juku on the other hand, focuses on non-academic activities such as art, music, sports and the like.
Due to the economic situation in Japan, the number of jukus have somehow declined. Whether there is a need for this or not is still unclear when it comes to children’s performance in tests.