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    The important thing is education

    Japan’s three-pronged reform continues to generate controversy in the government; the most recent focus is on education. It’s not exactly like the fight over voucher programs in the States, but there are similarities in that the main point of contention is whether federal or local governments are in charge of the public school system:

    On Monday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda and Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Taro Aso had a heated discussion with Education, Science and Technology Minister Nariaki Nakayama at the Prime Minister’s Office. The debate ended without a consensus being reached.

    The dreaded lack of consensus! There are a bunch of issues here. One is that it’s possible to interpret the Japanese constitution as placing the responsibility for education on the federal government:

    Article 26 [Right to Education, Compulsory Education]

    (1) All people shall have the right to receive an equal education correspondent to their ability, as provided by law.

    (2) All people shall be obligated to have all boys and girls under their protection receive ordinary education as provided for by law.

    (3) Such compulsory education shall be free.

    The constitution gives both sexes and all classes equal rights to education (according to their ability–the PC era wasn’t yet a glimmer in Judith Butler’s eye), but it doesn’t really say who’s in charge of delivering it.

    On the other side, local governments sensibly note that with the aging population, the balance between funding needed for elder care and funding needed for child care is shifting. Their feeling is that they should be able to work with a pool of welfare money, using local knowledge to determine what proportion goes to whom. We’ll see how things develop. The LDP is very keen on seeing its reforms go through, so expect compromises.

    6 Responses to “The important thing is education”

    1. Sean Kinsell says:

      I think they have their choice of approved textbooks from a narrow range, but deciding power over the range itself still belongs to the Monbusho.

    2. John says:

      I was thinking of the wide range of experiences of JETs. The ones I know seem to have been used in very different ways from district to district, and even school to school, but maybe that’s a function of the indvidual school’s administration, and not the curricular control of the local school board.

    3. John says:

      Speaking of JETs, did you ever read kindofcrap.com?

    4. Sean Kinsell says:

      Yes, I think local school officials do get a pretty free hand in using personnel; it’s just the books and syllabi that are centrally planned.
      And no, I haven’t read that site, though I think I can guess what it’s mostly about. I’ll check it out.

    5. John says:

      He’s pretty juvenile for my taste most of the time, but these are some of the funniest pieces about Japan (especially if true) I’ve ever read.

    6. John says:

      Don’t the locals already have control of the curriculum?