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2013年7月15日 (月)

13参院選 教育政策 人材育成への具体策を競え

The Yomiuri Shimbun July 13, 2013
Parties must discuss specifics for human resources development
13参院選 教育政策 人材育成への具体策を競え(7月12日付・読売社説)

What must be done to develop outstanding human resources? This is a theme of primary importance when considering the country’s future.

With the House of Councillors election campaigns under way, voters should be vigilant to know the education policies of the various parties.

Ever since its launch at the end of last year, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration has prioritized revitalizing the nation’s education and reinvigorating the economy.

The Education Rebuilding Implementation Council, a panel reporting directly to the prime minister, has worked out policy recommendations three times so far on such subjects as board of education reform and school bullying.

Only 2 among top 100

The Abe Cabinet has changed the way the national achievement test is conduted by requiring all sixth-grade primary school students and third-year middle school students nationwide to write the test. This move replaced a reduced application of the test based on a sampling formula put in place under the Democratic Party of Japan-led administration.

The government has subsequently come out with a policy of reviewing the current five-day school week system, and is considering revising an Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry ordinance to make it easier for local governments to opt for Saturday classes.

The pros and cons of the education policies put forward by the government in its first half-year in power will be a key issue in the upper house contest.

The Liberal Democratic Party has said that “fostering human resources capable of competing globally” is a pillar of the party’s upper house electoral pledges, advocating improvement of English education and placing emphasis on math and science.

The LDP pledges are built on the idea that efforts to produce people capable of being active in the international arena and able to create new frontiers of science and technology will underpin the growth strategy of the government.

In the World University Rankings, there are only two Japanese universities in the top 100. The LDP, in this respect, has set the goal of increasing the figure to 10 or more within the next decade. The party, however, has fallen short of coming out with specific policies about how to improve the quality of this country’s higher education.

The LDP is in favor of a household income limitation on eligibility for a tuition-free high school system introduced across the board under the DPJ administration.

The LDP and its ruling coalition partner New Komeito, on the other hand, have incorporated into their upper house election pledges a policy of addressing the task of providing early childhood education--education for children aged 3 to 7--for free.

Implementation of this policy, however, is estimated to cost as much as 790 billion yen.

The DPJ and People’s Life Party, for their part, are calling for the current free high school education to remain unchanged.

Clarify revenue sources

Many parties are stressing the need for creating a scholarship system for university students to provide them with stipends that will not be need to be repaid.

To be sure, the ratios of privately funded expenses at kindergartens and univerisities are remarkably high compared to other industrially advanced countries. Alleviation of education expenses in family budgets has become a problem that should be urgently addressed.

The fiscal conditions of the government, however, have been increasingly stringent. If parties are going to propose policies requiring large budget expenditures, they must come up with specific ways to secure the funds for these policies.

After the upper house election, the Education Rebuilding Implementation Council is scheduled to address the task of reforming university entrance exams and reviewing the existing 6-3-3-4 education system. The figures refer to the number of years spent in primary school, middle school, high school and university. Both are major challenges that must be tackled from a medium- and long-range point of view since they will greatly affect the entire education system. All ruling and opposition parties are urged to have in-depth discussions on these education issues.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 12, 2013)
(2013年7月12日01時26分  読売新聞)


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