Primary Source

Meiji Era School Attendence [Tables]

Annotation

Below are two tables that reveal both the accomplishments and the limitations of Meiji educational reforms. Table 1 shows an impressive increase in the number of schools and the enrollment rates for both girls and boys, one that culminates in 1905 with near-universal enrollment rates. Table 2, however, reveals the fact that enrollment rates and attendance rates were not identical. In this particular elementary school, the average daily attendance rate dropped sharply at two times: in winter, when severe weather made commuting difficult, and in summer, when children were expected to perform agricultural work for the family. While this table shows statistics for only one village, similar patterns prevailed throughout rural Japan well into the 1920s and 1930s. These patterns suggest the difficulties that governments encounter when they attempt to implement compulsory schooling. Schooling involves a basic change in the patterns of childhood and the family economy. For most families, sending children to school all day for most of the year involved a significant loss of available labor for household tasks, as well as a change in the schedules and rhythms of family life. Even when parents began to send their children to school, they often did so only insofar as it conformed to those schedules and rhythms.

Source

Platt, Brian. Burning and Building: Schooling and State Formation in Japan, 1750-1890. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2004.

Primary Source Text

Primary School Enrollment Rates (percent of children of primary school age who were enrolled in school)

Date Primary Schools Boys Girls Total
1873 12,597 39.9 15.1 28.1
1874 20,017 46.2 17.2 32.3
1875 24,303 50.8 18.7 35.4
1880 28,410 58.72 21.91 41.06
1885 28,283 65.80 32.07 49.62
1890 26,017 65.14 31.13 48.93
1895 26,631 76.65 43.87 61.24
1900 26,857 90.35 71.73 81.48
1905 27,407 97.72 93.34 95.62

Enrollment and Attendance in Yoshida Elementary School, 1883

Month # children enrolled # children attending Avg daily attendance
January 100 90 80
February 100 90 50
March 132 120 111
April 119 109 100
May 119 106 93
June 119 80 68
July 119 77 54
August 119 94 75
September 118 89 83
October 118 92 81
November 118 76 66
December 118 87 82

How to Cite This Source

"Meiji Era School Attendence [Tables]," in Children and Youth in History, Item #132, http://chnm.gmu.edu/cyh/primary-sources/132 (accessed July 28, 2014). Annotated by Brian Platt