The education ministry is taking more action after learning that 32 female students at public high schools dropped out due to pregnancy or childbirth after being advised to do so in fiscal 2015 and 2016.

In some cases, schools urged them to drop out despite the fact that students were willing to continue their education or take a leave of absence. There is a concern that some may have ended up leaving school against their will.

The education ministry revealed the findings of the first-ever survey on the relationship between dropouts and pregnancy at Japanese public high schools.

“It is a concern, as being excluded from obtaining a high school education may lead to a cycle of poverty,” said a ministry official in charge of the survey. “We would like to ask schools to stop simply giving recommendations to leave, and instead give consideration for the students' sake.”

The ministry will notify education boards across Japan to give more consideration to the situation of the students.

According to the survey, 2,098 cases of students’ pregnancy or childbirth were recorded by high schools in fiscal 2015 and 2016.

After becoming pregnant, of the total, 371 students at full-time high schools, or 36.9 percent, and 271 students attending part-time schools, or 24.8 percent, left school “voluntarily based on either the students’ or their guardians’ will.”

There were no students who were expelled as a disciplinary measure over their pregnancies. However, 21 from full-time schools and 11 from part-time schools dropped out “voluntarily” after being advised to do so by their schools.

Of those students who left “voluntarily after their schools’ recommendation,” 12 students from full-time schools and six students from part-time schools expressed a willingness to continue their education either by “continuing schooling, taking a leave of absence or transferring to a different school.”

Many of the schools that advised the students to quit told the ministry that they did so because they thought “it would be difficult for students to continue learning based on conditions of their health and child-rearing support at home,” or “they could not provide adequate support at school, and could not ensure the safety of the students concerned.”