Cram schools are benefiting from wobbling educational institutions.
Studying is dull for many Japanese students aged between 6 and 18. But, even so, plenty of them study in juku, cram schools. Why do they attend? A boy answered ‘inevitable.’
That will benefit the juku market. It grew in the past few decades because of the relaxed education programme and increased household expenditure in education. Also, to begin running juku is relatively easy for managers because of low quantities in stock, enabling them to pay cheap costs when starting the business. All this led to the industry reaching over ￥1 trillion ($ 10 billion) in 1996, reckons Yano Research Institute. This may profit the entire education market too, which accounted for over ￥25 trillion in 2002, according to Nomura Research Institute.
But because of fewer children the juku market is shrinking steadily since 2002, urging it to change. Several things reflect this trend. First, a type of tutorial class has become popular. Because classes are arranged based on levels of each students, it attracts many parents. Second, major companies have been doing mergers and acquisitions to reach wider markets, showing how fierce the competition is. What’s more, they are seeking to grow in Asia such as
Another daunting issue is also expecting juku to change: the education gulf between rich and poor. Children whose parents have high levels of earnings tend to achieve good results. Meanwhile, those whose families are in difficult economic situations are liable to drop schools. The government’s small spending in education contributes to it. Furthermore, unless students attend juku with parents paying huge sum of money, they are unlikely to attain top universities. A man who taught in juku for 25 years said ‘money determines children’s careers.’
To tackle the problem, juku and schools need to cooperate more closely. But, even that will be difficult. ‘Aims of juku and schools, especially public ones, are basically different from each other: we are business’ says the manager. ■
 Data of Yano Research Institute on juku is found in a report of Link Research Institute, a think tank, of Venture Link. ‘Understanding markets: the juku industry’ (March 2008)
 Nomura Research Institute (Hiroyuki Nitto), March 2006, ‘Industry Focus: Business of education and management of university’
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