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2008年7月 3日 (木)


(Jul. 3, 2008) The Yomiuri Shimbun

Close scrutiny needed on education budgets

教育基本計画 必要な予算を精査すべきだ(7月3日付・読売社説)

It was inevitable that the government's basic education promotion plan, which was approved by the Cabinet on Tuesday, did not include numerical targets for education budgets and the number of teachers to be increased.


The Education, Science and Technology Ministry failed to show clear grounds for setting such targets, and so it needs to thoroughly go over its original plans so that it can make proper budgetary requests in the future.


The basic plan, the first of its kind compiled in line with the revised Fundamental Law of Education, is supposed to shape visions on education for the next 10 years and present policy measures for the next five. A number of measures were included in the plan, but as long as budgets for backing up those measures remain unclear, the government's intention to attach particular importance to education as a foundation for the nation may end up as an empty slogan.



Trillions of yen no small matter


What caused this situation?


Other than education, the nation has a number of important issues to address, such as social security. Considering this, the government has maintained a policy of cutting spending under its new "big-boned" economic policy.


But this is not the only reason.


The education ministry was criticized during the process of drafting the basic plan that it lacked numerical budgeting targets. The ministry then hastily hammered out a target of 5 percent of the nation's gross domestic product for education budgets for the next 10 years.

Though the figure is at the average level among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development member nations, raising it to that level from the current 3.5 percent would mean an additional allocation of 7.4 trillion yen.


In showing the breakdown for the increase, the ministry changed the budget for primary and middle school education from 3.7 trillion yen to 2.8 trillion yen and that for high school education from 2.5 trillion yen to 3.5 trillion yen.

Numerical targets that can be changed so easily by about 1 trillion yen make them seem unrealistic.


(make them seem 文法: make+人+動詞の原型=人に~させる)

How much will need to be budgeted for educational visions and bringing them about? This should have been taken up in the more than a year of discussions by experts at the Central Council for Education.



An investment in the future


Children's academic abilities are said to be worsening. Although the public is very concerned about academic performances, the basic plan did not include any numerical targets.


It is true in a sense that educational achievements can be hard to quantify. But ministry officials or education circles as a whole may be too soft on themselves. It is necessary to check if such an attitude caused their failure to provide convincing grounds for increased education budgets.


What the ministry should do is place priority on creating an environment that prevents any negative effects that could happen at schools by the implementation of the new teaching guidelines, which are to increase the content to be taught.


The new guidelines will take effect in full from fiscal 2011 at primary schools and from fiscal 2012 at middle schools.


The ministry must come up with alternatives that do not stick to its initial plan to increase the number of teachers by 25,000 as stated in the draft of the basic plan. Close examination is needed regarding the number of teachers, which has remained insufficient despite efforts that include reemploying retired teachers and asking locals to pitch in.


(pitch in=協力する)

Education is an investment in the future--or in other words, the nurturing of human resources. Many people realize the importance of education.


Budgetary requests for the next fiscal year will be made next month. The ministry must present a concrete and realistic budget and the reasons for it, and try to secure support for its position.


(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 3, 2008)

2008730144  読売新聞)


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