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EDITORIAL | Help Students Affected by the New Year Disasters Pursue Their Dreams of Higher Education

Universities, and the national and local governments, must flexibly support students disrupted by the earthquakes who dream of going on to higher education.



Masahito Moriyama, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, addresses an extraordinary press conference on the morning of January 5. (©Kyodo)

Venues across Japan held the national university entrance examination on January 13 and 14, kicking off entrance exam season. However, in the areas affected by the Noto Peninsula earthquake, test takers find themselves in a harsh situation. Many students complain that they cannot concentrate on their studies and are in no position to sit for entrance exams. 

This spring, we must not allow students to give up on higher education because of the disaster. Likewise, we must support them in taking entrance exams for their desired schools.

The national and local governments should provide generous support, including transportation and accommodation for these students. That way, test takers from the affected areas can pursue their dreams and demonstrate their abilities.

The universities too should respond flexibly to the situation. For example, by extending their application periods. 

Many students completed the common university entrance test at Kanazawa University on the afternoon of January 14th, Kanazawa City (© Kyodo)

Flexibility and Support for Taking Entrance Exams

The Common Test for University Admissions is the national entrance exam. Due to the earthquakes, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology has taken relief measures to allow students in disaster-stricken areas to take a supplemental exam in its place. That will take place on January 27-28, for affected students who could not take the original entrance exam on January 13-14. 

Furthermore, Kanazawa University, Kanazawa City, in the disaster-impacted Ishikawa Prefecture, has been added as a venue for the supplementary exam. Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (Tokyo) and Kyoto Institute of Technology (Kyoto) are also venues for the supplementary exam.

Of course, these moves in themselves are not sufficient. 

For example, there are undoubtedly cases in which it will be difficult for students to reach a test venue because of road closures. Local governments are working to arrange accommodations away from the disaster area for exam takers. However, isn't there a possibility that this information is not being adequately communicated?

Candidates take the common university entrance test on the morning of January 13th, Kanazawa University (©Kyodo).

Taking Account of Individual Needs

Information such as available transportation methods, travel times, and support measures for each region should be conscientiously disseminated on bulletin boards at evacuation centers and on social media. 

Studying for entrance exams is difficult in disaster-stricken areas. The government is now arranging to significantly increase the number of secondary evacuation centers outside the disaster zone. Hopefully, they will be readily available to students taking the common entrance exam and their family members. 

In 1995, the Great Hanshin Earthquake occurred two days after the National Center Test for University Admissions. (That is what the national standardized test was called at that time.) Many universities responded by re-recruiting applicants from the disaster area after the general entrance exam. They also held special entrance exams from late March onwards.

Hopefully, many universities will step forward and offer relief measures this time as well. For one thing, they should favorably consider exempting students from the affected areas from paying exam and entrance fees.

There is no prospect of resuming classes at Wajima Junior High School, which also serves as an evacuation center. January 12, 2024 in Ishikawa Prefecture. (© Sankei by Masamichi Kirihara)

Disrupting More Than Aspiring University Applicants

Students about to sit for university exams were not the only ones affected by the terrible earthquake. Many schools suffered damage, from the elementary to high school levels. 

Notably, some schools in Ishikawa Prefecture have been unable to resume classes due to water and power outages. Some children may also have lost textbooks and other necessities for study and daily life.

Every board of education and school should work closely together to ensure that children in the disaster area have adequate time to learn.


(Read the editorial in Japanese.)

Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun


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