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Home > Policy > White Paper, Notice, Announcement > White Paper > Japanese Government Policies in Education, Science, Sports and Culture1999 > Part2 Q29

Part2 Educational Reform Q&A
Q29: It is said to be the era of decentralization,but how will education policy change compared to now?

A:Each prefecture and municipality will havemore free choice and responsibility than nowand will be able to promote school develop-ment,community education,lifelong learn-ing,sports and culture distinctive to thecharacteristics of its region.

Until now,education in Japan has achieved great results through the combined cooperation and collaboration of the central government,prefec-tures,municipalities and schools in efforts to en-hance school education and establish the eondi-tions for education.However,the continuation of education policy where the central government,local governments and schools are jointly in-volved makes it unclear who should take the re-sponsibility to make decisions and proceed with educational reform.It also encourages a tendency for the central government and prefectural boards of education to give detailed guidance,advice,instructions and orders to municipalities and schools.Further,it inevitably tends to be difficult to encourage the development of distinctive schools that can respond to the circumstances of the local community and the children,because the extent to which boards of education and schools may decide to take new measures based on their own judgment is unclear.As a result,in order to respond to the chang-ing times and further promote educational re-form and decentralization,it is important to build a new structure of cooperation and col-laboration between the national government,local governments and schools,having first un-dertaken a review of the allocation of roles be-tween the central government,prefectures and municipalities and clarification of who has the responsibility for implementing what.Accordingly,in July1999,21laws concern-ing school education,lifelong1earn.ing,sports and culture were revised(Law Concerning the Provision,Etc.,of Laws Related to the Promo-tion of Decentralization[enacted1April2000]),enabling local governments and schools to ac-tively implement education that emphasizes the characteristics of each school and local commu-nity based on their own decisions and responsi-bility.The main revisions are as follows.

Abolishment of Approval of Appointments ofSuperintendents

The basic policy and main measures concerning education administration of prefectures and mu-nicipalities,including school education,lifelong learning,sports and culture,are determined by the deliberations of a board of education com-prising five members.The board of education has a superintendent,who assists witfi the board's decisions as well as receives direction and supervision from the board and oversees the board of education secretariat to implement its decisions.Until now,the appointment of a pre-fectural superintendent has required advance approval from the Minister of Education,Sci-ence,Sports and Culture and the appointment of a municipal superintendent has required advance approval from the prefectural board of education(appointment approval system).This system has been abolished so that in future each prefecture and municipality will be responsible for select-ing a suitable person.However,since the role is an important one,in future the superintendent is to be selected from among the members of the board of education.The adoption of this new mechanism will increase the care taken in the selection of the superintendent as the prior agreement of a local assembly composed of the representatives of the community will be needed for the appointment of board members and will make it easier to select a suitable person for the position of superintendent.

Greater Flexibility in the Number of Prefec-tural and Designated City Board of Educa-tion Members

Currently,the number of board members is set at five,but in the recent legislative revisions,the ordinance stipulations allow for an increase to six.Such a revision will allow for a better reflec-tion of the views of local people in education policy and selection of members from a wider field.

Improvement in Guidance Administration

The central government carries out guidance,advice and assistance on educational adminis-tration for prefectures and municipalities,and prefectural boards of education do the same for municipalities.However,in order to prevent the over-regulation of local government decisions,there are to be changes to legal provisions and a review of notices issued by the central govern-ment and prefectures.

School Zones for Municipal Upper Secon-dary Schools

Until now,school zones for municipal upper secondary schools have been set by prefectural boards of education.However,in future,the municipal board of education where a school is located will be able to take its own decision after consultation with the prefectural board of edu-cation(to be implemented in the first year from April2001).

Introducing Education with Local Characteristics(1)

Agriculture Education in"Umaimondokoro Ibaraki":The Food Kingdom

The Program to Promote Enlivening Agriculture Education:

Regional Exchange and Human Resource Development(Ibaraki Prefecture)

Blessed with extensive,flat agricultural land,a mild climate andabundantnatureeach"ofIbarakiPrefecture sup-plies a bounty of delicious produce.The Prefecture is one of Japan's leading agricultural areas with the largest agricultural population in the country and the third largest agricultural yields.Currently,Ibaraki Prefecture is running an active pub-lic relations campaign based on the slogan"Umaimon-dokoro"(Home of Flavor)to raise the profile of Ibaraki agri-cultural,forestry and fishery produce and to increase sales.Furthermore within the Prefecture there is a concen-tration of agricultural technology development centers in-cluding biotechnology centered around Tsukuba City,and two national universities with agricultural faculties.In the abundant environment of this"agriculturally de-veloped prefecture,"there are seven prefectural upper secon-

Map of lbaraki Producing Centers

dary schools with courses in Agriculture,including the Mito Agricultural Upper Secondary School,which has some of the most extensive grounds in the country.Since FY1994,the"Program to Promote Enlivening Agriculture Education"has been implemented with the view to promoting regional exchange and fostering young farmers by ac-tively utilizing the characteristics of each school.

School Farm

-Aiming for schools that are open to the community and exchange between various people...Helping the local people generates confidence in students-

Community College

This College conducts extension courses in areas such as bread-making and horticulture for local people with the students acting as teachers.Running a course(A student's impression)I taught a variety of things in the ex-tension course in horticulture and I had a lot of fun working with and getting to know the local people.What pleased me the most were the words of thanks that I received at the end of the lesson from the people who took the course.

Creating space for greenery andflowers

Students provide flowers and greenery culti-vated at school to stations,government and other public offices and public halls,etc.Distributing planters(A Student's Impres-sion)I think I was able to communicate more deeply with local people and people working in government and other public offices and companies.I still recalI with fondness the happy smiles the elderly people gave me when I delivered flowers to a home for the aged.I cherish individu-al moments such as these and I am glad that I delivered the flowers.In future I would like more people to enjoy the flow-ers grown at our school.

A pasture in the extensive grounds of Mito Agricultural Upper Secondary School

Hands-on Learning of Nature

This involves hands-on activities in nature,such as digging sweet potatoes and harvesting grapes and pears for kindergarten and young children.Again,the students act as teachers.Participating in the activity(A kindergarten child and parent)-The pears were delicious,teachers!-We had a really enjoyable day.I was surprised by the size of the grounds at Mito Agricultural Upper Secondary School.

Harvesting Pears(Sashima Upper Secondary School)

Activities to Get Closer to Agriculture

-A chance to directly experience the hardships and joys of agriculture from tbe upper secon-dary school level-These activities involve practical experience with a stay of up to five nights with a leading farming family in the Prefecture.Experiencing practical study(A student's impressions)

Agriculture is hard because it depends on the weather,but I think it is necessary to experience hard times as well.Farming is very tiring and dirty.But I think that it is import.ant to experience the happiness when produce that you grow yourself rip-ens,as well as sadness when produce faiis.Having these kinds of experiences in various ways is im-portant for students who want to go into agriculture.In that sense,this study provides a very good op-po rtunity to have those experiences.

Promoting Careers in Agriculture

-Aiming to cultivate the next generation of farmers with dreams and aspirations-

This involves training and lectures for students who want a career in agriculture and graduates(working in agriculture)in order to ensure the future of agriculture.Participating in training sessions for people look-ing for a career in agriculture(A student's impres-sions)Today I went to Ibaraki Prefectural College of Agriculture and the Ibaraki Flower Distribution Center.Participating in this training has renewed my awareness of the importance and interest of ag-riculture.In particular,the people studying at the College seemed to be very interested and excited about what they were doing.My father graduated from a College of Agri-culture,so I paid particularly careful attention to it.Listening to my father talk,I thought I wanted to go to the College of Agriculture and seeing it for myself bas made me want to go more.This training has helped to make my future clear for me.In Toaraki Prefecture,various measures to promote agriculture have been implemented using an environment that other prefectures do not have.In future,the Prefecture is aim-ing to increase cooperation and collaboration with agricultural organizations and to foster human resources with knowledge of cutting-edge technology and new management skills which can respond social changes such as internationalization and informatization.

However,what is most important is that students develop dreams for the future and confidence through these kinds of experiences in the local community,and set in place the aspirations of the future generation of farmers.As a result,they can be expected to foster the human resources to spearhead agriculture in Toaraki,and in turn Japan.

Introducing Education with Local Characteristics(2)

-The topic is the environment,the text is Lake Biwa and there are new encounters and

friendships on board-

"Lake Biwa Floating School':The School on the Water(Shiga Prefecture)

In Shiga Prefecture,there is a hands-on sailing project using the study ship"Umi no Ko"(Child of the Sea)to give children overnight hands-on learning on Lake Biwa for all5 th

grade elemen-tary school students in the prefecture.The project forms part of school education.Various programs are conducted with the aim of interaction between friends from a vari-ety of regions and deepening friendships through environmental studies,including surveys of the lake water,and group living during a voyage of one night and two days.The study ship"Umi no Ko,"capable of accommodating240people at a time,has un-dertaken over1500voyages since its maiden launch in1983and traveled a total distance of around320,000km-equivalent to eight times around the Earth.Approximately280,000chil-dren have broadened their circle of friendships and graduated from the"Umi no Ko."

Lake Biwa Studies(Environmental Studies)

-A chance to understand the importance of water and nature from the life of the lake-

Survey of the clarity of water taken from various places around the lake and observation of water from the depths
Comparisons of local river water and lake water
Observation of a variety of plankton living in the lake and collection of water plants

Ocean Activities

-A chance to experience ship activities-

Cutter activity
Semaphore and rope work
Deck scrubbing

Socializing and Exchange Activities

-To further deepen the interaction and friendship between the children on board-The study ship"Umi no Ko"has been planned so that children from schools in neighboring districts board her together.During the course of various studies and group living over the one night and two days afloat,there are a variety of opportunities for social interaction,including school introductions and ex-change of name cards,games and tug-of-war competitions,between children from schools aboard at the same time as well as those from the same school.This is undertaken with the ex-pectation that new discoveries can be made and new friendships forged.In addition,it is also an opportunity to directly experience the importance of following rules and cooperating.

Children from Kyoto and Osaka Also Participate

-Interaction between children from the Lake Biwa-Yodogawa river basin-Since FY1999,elementary school children from Kyoto and Osaka in the Lake Biwa-Yodoga-wa river basin have been welcome to participate in the hope of ensuring that they realize a common consideration for Lake Biwa and nature and to further expand the interaction between children.In the future,it is hoped that even more children will learn to appreciate support of Lake Biwa through taking part in the various hands-on learning activities on the study ship"Umi no Ko."

Two day schedule

Comments from the children who took part
I was very happy to find the plant plankton called Biwa Kunshomo because it is only found in Lake Biwa.
When I checked the water clarity,water from the Nakanoigawa river was the dirtiest and wa-ter from Minanosegawa river was the cleanest,although I am sure it was probably even cleaner in the past.I wonder why the South Lake is dirtier even though the North Lake and the South Lake are the same Lake Biwa?
At first,everyone was uncoordinated,but it went well when we all called out to each other.As we were rowing,hearing everyone's voices I felt that we had all come together as one(Taking part in the cutter activity).
When I first met friends from other schools,I was very shy,but we soon got around to talking.Even though they were people I'd met for the first time,I found them easy to talk to and have fun with.I really want to see them again.
You make a lot of friends at the floating school,as well as learn a lot about Lake Biwa.You can gain some understanding of the size of Lake Biwa.Lake Biwa is huge!During our studi-es of the lake,when I touched water that had come from70m down,it was so cold!

With a view to becoming an"environmentally-oriented prefecture,"Shiga Prefecture has for some time been taking various environmental conservation measures,including the comprehensive conservation of Lake Biwa.Lake Biwa is a valuable natural treasure not only for Shiga Prefecture,but also for Ja-pan and the rest of the world.The cooperation of people from both residents within the prefecture and from neighboring regions is essential for its conservation.The many children in Shiga Prefecture and surrounding regions who have experienced the"Umi no Ko"are expected in the future to make independent efforts to conserve the environment both around Lake Biwa,as fans of the lake,and on a global scale,as the fu-ture protectors of the natural environment.

(C)COPYRIGHT Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology

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