It would seem a small case of absentmindedness has been breaking out in educational institutes around Japan recently. One such case in Japan’s Kumamoto Prefecture saw a handful of students go nearly an entire year without ever receiving some of their “required reading material.”

However, in this and another similar case, it’s hard to say who’s at fault, the teachers who failed to give the proper references out, or the students who neglected to say anything about it.

Slip from memory
According to a board of education investigation, at an elementary school in Mifune Town, Kumamoto in 2012 a fifth grade class was receiving the government mandated textbooks for art class. The books came in two volumes together: Volume 1 was for fifth grade and Volume 2 was intended for sixth graders.

The teacher figured he’d simply give his homeroom class Volume 1 and hang on to Volume 2 until it was needed. It seemed a reasonable move at the time to ensure that 100 percent of the texts would last until the following year.

However, when the school year changed the homeroom students got mixed up as the moved onto sixth. By this time the teacher had forgotten to give the 13 students leaving him their copies of Volume 2. Since no one said anything those students went without, borrowing their neighbors books when needed.

No textbooks, no problem
This situation continued until January this year when one of the parents stumbled upon what had happened. When it was uncovered, the board of education for the prefecture looked into it and deemed that “the class had followed the government guidelines for education. There were no problems with the quality of education, and the students will not need to retake any units.”

It would seem that the textbook in this instance wasn’t entirely essential to learning the material in this course. Also, with the proliferation of the internet and children’s increasing ability with it you might argue that all textbooks are unnecessary. Even without going that far you could say that there was no need for the 13 kids to work up the effort to look into their missing textbooks when the information could easily be found elsewhere.

No test pages, problem
In another instance of forgetfulness, during an aptitude test for university in Kawasaki City, Kanagawa on 3 January at a joint middle/high one student was mistakenly given a copy of the test which had three pages missing. The pages were the answer sheets to three large questions on the test. Without them the student was unable to provide an answer.

In perhaps a true measure of the pupil’s aptitude – more than the test itself could ever reveal – no one knew that the pages were missing until the 45-minute test was over and papers had been collected.

Once they noticed, the school gave the student the three pages and put them into a room for 15 minutes to complete the test. The city’s board of education also released a statement saying that steps will be taken to ensure students are not adversely affected by mistakes. Teaching students to speak up when something is clearly wrong would be a good first step.

Source: Yomuri Online 1, 2 (Japanese)
Image: Sozaijiten