School absences in Japan hit record high

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Japan’s Ministry of Education says its survey shows the number of primary and junior high school students absent for long periods from school has risen 25% to a record high over the past year. year until March.

The ministry cites changes in their living environment caused by the coronavirus pandemic as the reason.

The ministry on Thursday released the results of its annual survey of absenteeism, bullying and suicides over the past school year.

The survey covered elementary schools, middle schools, high schools and schools for children with special needs.

It revealed that 244,940 primary and lower secondary students were absent for 30 days or more, an increase of nearly 49,000 from the previous year.

This figure marked an increase for the ninth consecutive year. It does not include those who were absent due to illness or for economic reasons.

Among them, primary school children numbered 81,498, a 3.6-fold increase from the 2011 school year.

A total of 163,442 lower secondary students were absent for long periods, a 1.7-fold increase over the decade. The figure indicates that one in 20 students did not attend school.

Ministry officials analyze that the pandemic has had an impact on the lives of children. Over the past school year in Japan, coronavirus infections soared in the summer and January. More than 590,000 children have been infected, leading to numerous classroom and school closures.

Officials say restrictions in schools during the pandemic may have influenced children’s lives and their relationships with friends, which could have undermined their willingness to attend classes.

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