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2013年1月26日 (土)

教育再生会議 実効性伴う踏み込んだ提言を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 26, 2013)
Abe's new panel must propose effective education measures
教育再生会議 実効性伴う踏み込んだ提言を(1月25日付・読売社説)

The headquarters for the revitalization of education, which is to set the direction of education policy for the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, has been officially launched.

We hope the new panel will come up with effective prescriptions to address mounting problems, such as incidents of serious bullying and physical punishments, at the nation's places of education.

At the headquarters' first meeting Thursday, Abe said the revitalization of education is an important issue on a par with the revitalization of the economy. Abe said the panel's goals would be to guarantee students chances to acquire world-class academic ability and respect for social norms.

The panel, directly under the prime minister, consists of 15 experts including prefectural governors, corporate executives and scholars.

We hope the panel will discuss various problems in education, free from the traditional administrative framework of educational practices, and recommend drastic and effective proposals.


Improvement over old panel

The Education Rebuilding Council, which was created in 2006 under the first Abe administration, produced some achievements such as moving away from "pressure-free education," but its proposals tried to please everyone and quite a few of them could not be realized.

How its role differed from that of the Central Council of Education, an advisory panel to the education minister, was unclear. This is a point to keep in mind.

An improvement this time is that the Central Council of Education will be in charge of designing concrete systems to revitalize education based on the headquarters' discussions. We give high marks on this point.

At the headquarters, members will have intensive discussions on specific themes and will compile proposals as appropriate. The initial points of discussion will be antibullying measures and a review of the board of education system.

The Abe administration reportedly plans to incorporate the results of discussions at the headquarters in a bill for a basic law on measures to prevent bullying, which it aims to pass in the upcoming ordinary Diet session.

To prevent bullying, in addition to appropriate instruction by teachers, proper home discipline and improved counseling services offered by local governments are indispensable. We would like the panel to enlist society as a whole to tackle the problem.

Problematic responses to issues such as suicides suspected to have been caused by bullying have drawn attention to the closed nature of boards of education across the country and have revealed that many of them are responsible authorities in name only.


Review board of education system

It cannot be denied that the system of education boards, which are politically independent from heads of local governments, has obscured where the responsibility for education administration resides. In the physical punishment case at Osaka's municipal Sakuranomiya High School, Mayor Toru Hashimoto and the municipal board of education have clashed over responses to the problem.

It is necessary to thoroughly discuss what the ideal relationship between heads of local governments and boards of education should be.

A mid- and long-term issue to be deliberated after this summer's House of Councillors election is a review of the current system in which primary school is six years long, middle and high school are three years each, and university is four. The Liberal Democratic Party picked this as one of its pledges in the latest House of Representatives election.

More and more academic institutions are now practicing integrated education under which curriculums flow seamlessly from primary to middle school or from middle to high school. The appropriateness of the current academic system, divided into four separate levels of school, has been the subject of much discussion for years.

We believe the time has come to think about a more flexible education system that improves the academic ability of children.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 25, 2013)
(2013年1月25日01時20分  読売新聞)


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