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Part2 Educational Reform Q&A
Q8: In future,while the number of elderly people will continue to increase,I think that there will be many children who have little contact with the elderly.Do you think it is important to increase opportunities for contact between elderly people and children?

A:We do think it is important.Therefore,we are trying to increase opportunities for contact between elderly people and children.

Contact with elderly people is a good opportu-nity for children to learn a variety of experienees,knowledge and ways of living,deepen their re-spect for and understanding of the elderly and develop socially by learning consideration for other people and cooperation.

For example,the National Children's Plan(Emergency Three-year Strategy)provides op-portunities for children and elderly people tohave fun together by playing traditional gamesand making things,and for children to visithomes for the aged and participate in traditionalevents( See Q5 ).

In addition,the Ministry of Education,Sci-ence,Sports and Culture(MESSC)is consider-ing various innovations in the provision of school facilities and buildings to make it easy for local elderly people to visit.Specifically,in order to encourage visits by local elderly people to schools and interaction between children and the elderly,MESSC will be pr-omoting the provision of space that will enable a variety of interaction and room for re-laxation,as well as the removal of obstacles to make buildings barrier-free,so that the elderly can use the facilities easily.In addition,there are schools that have been built together with daycare centers and homes for the aged with the objective of providing op-portunities for everyday contact between chil-dren and the elderly.From now on,we will ac-tively promote this type of scbool provision.

Currently,the number of classrooms not usedfor lessons is increasing in elementary and loversecondary schools nationwide due to the declinein the number of children.MESSC is working toconvert these classrooms into daycare centersfor the elderly and promote active interactionwith the elderly.( See Q27 .)

Making"waraji"(straw sandals)

Kimpachi also sees Educational Reforms

-Educational Reforms taken up in television drama"Kimpachi Sensei of Grade3B"-

As everyone in Japan knows,the popular television drama"Kimpachi Sensei of Grade3B,"starring the actor Tetsuya Takeda as the lower secondary school Japanese teacher Sa-kamoto Kimpachi,has returned to Japanese television screens.The show always reflects contemporary social phenomena and deals with the true feelings of lower secondary school students.The current series,the first episode of which was screened on14October1999was also packed with various contents.The first episode opened with a scene showing a shot of someone fitting up a sign saying"Sakura Daycare Center"next to that of the Sakura Lower Secondary School.The daycare center has been built on the first floor of the Sakura Lower Secondary School.Even during lessons,there are scenes of chil-dren gaining hands-on experience of wheel-chairs.What did viewers think?These are some typical responses:"Why is there a daycare center inside the school?""Is there any trouble with children and eld-erly people in the same building?""I can'timagine bumping into the elderly in the school corridors."As community centers,schools in the fu-ture will increasingly become places where there is a lot of interaction with elderly peo-ple,as they will be provided together with welfare facilities for the elderly,and as spare classrooms,on the rise due to the decrease in the number of children,are utilized.This kind of place will allow the elderly to watch children in close proximity,and allow the children to interact with the elderly peo-ple through a variety of activities.There will also be spontaneous and natural interaction outside of class times and during breaks.At the end of the first episode,Kimpachi said:"Next week,we will finally welcome the local old people to the daycare center at this school.When you see them,don't be rude and use words like's old man's or's old woman's. They are all your elders in the corrununity.Fifty-four years ago,Japan lost the war and Tokyo was burnt to the ground.There were no game centers.or burger shops or anything else.These elders are the people who rebuilt that flattened city and guided Ja-pan to its revival.They are the generation who raised your mothers and fathers.For that job alone,the elderly deserve your respect.Some of them may be obstinate,and others may nag,but try to socialize with them and approach them.Some day,the elderly will bring you wonderful gifts."

The elderly people in the community are the"grandpas"and"grandmas"of all local peo-ple.In the same way,the local children are the children and grandchildren of all localpeople.

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