Japanese Government plans long-term project to examine the effectiveness of ECEC
The Sector > Policy > Japanese Government plans long-term project to examine the effectiveness of ECEC

Japanese Government plans long-term project to examine the effectiveness of ECEC

by Freya Lucas

March 16, 2023

The Japanese Government will conduct a long-term project to examine the effects of early childhood education, experiential learning activities and family environment on children’s later development and life trajectory, the first time such a study has been undertaken in Japan.


The Japanese Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry will follow the lives of tens of thousands of five-year-old children, collating information on their academic ability, educational progress, and occupations and annual earnings after they become adults. 


Through extensive data analysis, the ministry hopes to develop more effective educational programs. Currently at Japanese kindergartens, day nurseries and authorised nursery schools, children are provided with early childhood education to develop curiosity, cooperativeness and other abilities through play and various experiences — elements that help to nurture their respective academic abilities.


As part of the project, the ministry will analyse the educational programs and experiential activities of targeted facilities, while monitoring each child’s home environment — including parental annual income and work type, among other elements.


The ministry also plans to continually check on the academic ability and academic paths of the children after they enter elementary school and gather information on their occupation and annual income into young adulthood and beyond.


Data will be collected annually through elementary school middle grades, then at stepped intervals thereafter. By analysing the data the ministry intends to examine the effects of early learning on children’s development in many domains, such as nurturing sociability in early childhood to help children to better transition into school. 


Researchers will be guided by the well-known childhood follow-up initiative the Perry Preschool Project, which examined the effects of early childhood education on young American children in the 1960s. The original project was conducted on young children from low-income families who were divided into two groups: those provided with early childhood education and those who were not. Even now, the project continues to track participants into the latter half of their lives.


Analysis of the data has shown that among those who received early childhood education, the percentage of people whose annual income reached $20,000 or higher at the age of 40 was 50 per cent higher than those who were not exposed to such learning. 


A report on the project said there was a $12.9 return for every $1.00 invested in early childhood education. The study is said to have triggered increased overseas awareness of the importance of such learning.


“It’s vital to examine the most effective methods for Japan’s educational environment and to develop early childhood education based on evidence,” said Professor Emeritus Toshiyuki Shiomisaid. 


“It’s important to examine family environments, but it’s also necessary to ensure that such studies don’t lead to discrimination. What’s needed is to help develop the ability of each child in a holistic manner.”

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