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2009年8月12日 (水)

社説:’09衆院選 教育 理念とビジョンがいる

(Mainichi Japan) August 11, 2009
Political parties should explain philosophies, visions on education
社説:’09衆院選 教育 理念とビジョンがいる

Education is a long-term project for a nation.

The guarantee of equal opportunities for the young to receive an education, which is the core of the nation's education system, is being affected by uncertainly in people's livelihoods caused by the rising unemployment rate and the widening income gap.


These problems have not only forced youths to leave schools or abandon advancing to higher education. Data shows that such disparities in living standards are reflected in the results of academic aptitude tests.

Political parties have pledged to extend financial support to the education of children in their education policies, just like aid in their childcare policies. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has promised to make early childhood education for those aged 3-5 free of charge on a step-by-step basis. The largest opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) has declared that it will make tuition fees for public high schools free and extend a large amount of financial assistance to private high school students.

Reducing household education costs is an effective way to apply the brakes to the declining birthrate, and numerous households will obviously welcome the move. Political parties should take this opportunity to discuss their basic policies and philosophies on education and work out concrete measures to achieve them.

It was in the 1970s that the government began to seek a third educational reform policy following one at the time of the Meiji Restoration and after World War II. However, the government's review of the education system hardly progressed. In the 1980s, the Ad Hoc Council on Education, which was set up as an advisory panel to the prime minister, called for respect for the individuality of students, education suited to internationalization and an increasingly information-oriented society with emphasis on lifelong education.

However, there are inconsistencies in the nation's education policy over the past decade amid the rapidly declining birthrate and dramatic changes in the economic environment. Criticism emerged that the lighter school education curriculum, which was aimed at preventing cramming, caused academic ability to decline. This forced the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry to revise the curriculum to boost what is taught at schools.

While the ratio of students who attend universities has surpassed 50 percent, an increase in the number of students who have no clear goals for their future careers has become a serious problem.

Japan tends to be regarded as a country that does not spend much money on education compared with other countries.  一方、国際比較すると、日本は教育にあまり金をかけない国と映る。

The taxpayer money Japan spends on education accounts for about 3 percent of the country's gross domestic product, well below the average of Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member countries, which stands at 5 percent.

Behind this is the traditional idea in Japan that parents should foot the costs of educating their children.

The government's efforts to restrain spending of taxpayers' money have prevented the ministry from increasing education outlays.

The ministry attempted to call for an increase in its education spending to equal the average of OECD member countries and incorporate a numerical target of increasing the number of schoolteachers by 25,000 in its basic education promotion plan.

However, the Finance Ministry refused to approve it on the grounds that there was no prospect that such efforts would produce positive results.
(他の先進国に負けぬにはこれだけ予算や人がいるという論法だが、) 支出抑制の財務省は「成果の見通しがない」と認めなかった経緯がある。

Discussions on increasing financial assistance for education should be expanded to those that cover the education policy as a whole.

Education should be regarded as not only a way to develop the potential of children but also as a public investment necessary to ensure a stable and sustainable society.

The upcoming general election offers an opportunity to express opinions on the hopes of the nation.

Voters should pursue a vision of education with the future of their children fully in mind.

毎日新聞 2009年8月11日 東京朝刊


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