Japan/October 28, 2022/By NORIHIKO KUWABARA/Source: https://www.asahi.com/
A record 244,940 elementary and junior high school students refused to go to school for 30 days or more in fiscal 2021, according to a survey released by the education ministry on Oct. 27.
The novel coronavirus pandemic is seen as a major cause, with many students suffering from poor mental or physical conditions because of it.
The ministry conducted the survey targeting public and private elementary, junior high and senior high schools nationwide, as well as special-needs schools and local education boards.
The results showed the number of elementary and junior high students who did not go to school for 30 days or more and were deemed truant in fiscal 2021 was 48,813 more than the previous year’s figure, a 24.9 percent jump.
It marked the first time the figure exceeded 200,000.
The degree of increase was also the largest.
There were 81,498 elementary school students who refused to go to school in fiscal 2021, up 18,148 from the previous fiscal year.
There were 163,442 junior high school students who refused to go to school in fiscal 2021, up 30,665 from the previous fiscal year.
Both figures, records since the survey began in fiscal 1991, have been rising for nine consecutive years.
In the survey, 49.7 percent said they refused to go to school because they “did not feel like doing anything” or they “felt uneasiness.”
The figure was up 2.8 points from the previous fiscal year.
Taking classes online has become popular during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Many students who refused to go to school still attend classes from home.
Because of this, the number of elementary and junior high school students who were deemed truant but were counted as “attending” a school in fiscal 2021 rose to 11,541 compared to the previous fiscal year’s figure of 2,626.
The number of elementary and junior high school students who were not a truant but missed school for 30 days or more to prevent contracting the novel coronavirus also jumped to 59,316. The figure for the previous fiscal year was 20,905.
The number of senior high school students who refused to go to school in fiscal 2021 was 50,985, up 7,934 from the previous fiscal year.
It was the first time in three years for the figure to increase.
The number of confirmed bullying cases at elementary, junior and senior high schools, and other schools, was 615,351 in fiscal 2021, up 98,188 from the previous fiscal year.
In fiscal 2020, the figure dropped because of schools being closed under the government’s orders and for other reasons.
However, the figure increased for the first time in two years to hit a record high.
There were 705 “serious” bullying cases in which a bullied student severely suffered mentally or physically or were forced to miss school for a long period.
The figure was up 191 from the previous fiscal year.
The ministry said the increase in the number of truants and bullying cases was due to the pandemic.
In fiscal 2021, there were no government-ordered school closures.
For many schools, however, classes were closed during the fifth and sixth waves of infections in the summer and winter, and students were separated into groups to attend school in rotation.
Therefore, some students had a hard time regulating their lives and felt less hesitant about missing classes, the ministry said.
Many school events, such as athletic festivals and field trips, were canceled due to the pandemic.
Limitations were also imposed on group activities.
These factors led to more students’ unwillingness to go to school and also caused some students to be stressed and bully other students, the ministry said.
The number of character assassination cases using computer and smartphones in fiscal 2021 was 21,900, up 3,030 from the previous fiscal year.
The figure was a record high since fiscal 2006, when the survey included such a category.