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2008年5月 1日 (木)


Govt must clearly state its plans for education

教育基本計画 目標を数値で示すべきだ(4月30日付・読売社説)

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The government must set out in numerical form its planned investment in education and its academic improvement targets as part of its efforts to improve our schools, so the public can more easily understand them.


The Central Council for Education, an advisory organ to the education, science and technology minister, has compiled a report concerning the basic education promotion plan. The plan is the first of its kind and lays out the government's mid- and long-term education policy targets.


Based on the revised Fundamental Law of Education, the plan will incorporate educational aims for the next decade and measures to be introduced over the next five years.


However, the council's recommendations lack specifics, failing, for example, to state how much money will need to be spent to improve the quality of education provided in classrooms across the nation.


Since local municipalities will draw up their plans based on the government's plan, we hope the Central Council for Education will release a more detailed version of the plan before sending it to the Cabinet for approval.



Will teacher numbers rise?


The most noticeable aspect of the plan is its call for increased investment in the nation's education system, which experts have noted is lower than in many other nations.


The report, despite having the subtitle "The Realization of a Nation Built on Education," describes planned investment in an abstract manner, stating, "By securing financial revenue streams needed for the [education] budget, we will strive to enrich investment in education to achieve educational standards comparable to those of the United States and major European nations."

Under the new teaching guidelines, both school hours and the amount of content studied will increase.


The new teaching guidelines will be implemented at primary schools in fiscal 2011 and middle schools in fiscal 2012. However, for science and mathematics both the number of school hours and the amount taught will drastically increase from next fiscal year as a transition measure to full-scale implementation of the new measures.


To ensure the new teaching guidelines can be successfully implemented, the number of teachers must be increased.


However, in this regard, the Central Council for Education's recommendations only state, "Preparations to improve conditions, including an increase of the quota of teachers, will be steadily made."


During discussions at the council, some members criticized the wording of the recommendations, with one saying: "I don't think anything will be changed by reading this. These are expressions worded to assist financial authorities."


The Liberal Democratic Party's Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Division has voted to ask that the government include in its recommendations numerical targets for investment and the provision of additional teachers.



Targets can play a key role


Also of concern is that it is unclear to what extent academic achievement can be boosted from the current level in five years.


In the recommendation, the Central Council for Education calls for improvements, saying, "Under past education platforms, practices of setting clear goals and verifying outcomes to assist with planning new approaches were insufficient." However, few targets are stated in the recommendations.


In basic educational plans drawn up by other countries as well as those drawn up by local municipalities, targets, including those for academic achievement, are often specified.


In Britain, the basic educational plan states that during the five years ending in 2008, the percentage of 11-year-olds who achieve a standardized level in the fields of English and mathematics in nationwide achievement tests should hit 85 percent. Plans in Finland, France and others also include such numerical targets.


By fiscal 2011, Okinawa Prefecture aims to ensure an average grade of 70 percent is achieved by students sitting nationwide achievement tests in Japanese, mathematics or arithmetic for sixth-graders in primary schools and third-year students in middle schools.


If the government includes specific targets in its plan, we believe its educational targets can be achieved.


(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 30, 2008)

20084300139  読売新聞)


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