October 28, 2015
Central Council for Education

 The Central Council for Education repeatedly holds sincere discussions and compiles reports on how to foster creative human resources with richness in humanity, and individuals who will lead our future society. Education aims to perfect one’s character and cultivate individuals who take pride to develop the foundations of our nation’s existence and prosperity.
 The education council, upon consultation with the MEXT Minister, is currently deliberating various matters with respect to the curriculum standards for primary and secondary education. Moreover, schools are now in the process of earnestly striving to realize recommendations made by the council.
 Under such backdrop, the Fiscal System Council has indicated that personnel mobility and fixed number of educational personnel for public schools should be mechanically reduced in accordance with the decreasing number of children today.
 Given Japan’s severe fiscal conditions, although limited financial resources should be used effectively, the fiscal council’s proposal is unrealistic and completely ignores education’s essential role which should correspond to the reality faced by children, schools and regional societies. Even more, the council’s recommendation will inhibit the cultivation of human resources who will support the government’s vision of “100 million active members of society” and “regional revitalization”.
 The education council has reviewed policies on how to correspond to various issues faced by schools and how to foster the qualities and knowledge necessary for a new era. These policies are meaningless, however, unless the quality and knowledge of teachers are enhanced, and a sufficient number of teachers are secured. The education council firmly believes the fiscal council’s view as irrational.
 Our national policy defines “people” as the source of economic development. Fostering human resources through education is an essential prior investment for Japan. Education is the core of Japan’s “100-year plan”, and the system must be designed from a long-term perspective. The council is deeply concerned that neglecting investment in education will leave Japan with a tremendous bill to pay in the future.

 As such, the Central Council for Education makes the following emergency recommendation:

The number of fixed teachers should not be mechanically reduced, but rather strategically enhanced and secured in order to carry out firm education activities corresponding to various education issues and regional needs.

 While Japan’s birthrate continues to decline, it is becoming increasingly difficult to teach children. Our nation faces a variety of issues including; 1) child poverty and an increasing education gap, 2) striking increase in the number of students in need of special assistance corresponding to conditions of his/her disability, 3) increasing number of foreign students and problems arising from adjusting to Japanese society, 4) heightened risk in the aggravation of issues related to student instruction on bullying, truancy and acts of violence. We do not have a moment to lose towards establishing an instruction system which enables children carrying such issues to be actively engaged in society.
 Moreover, in order to survive in a rapidly changing society, individuals must be equipped with the ability to utilize their knowledge in actual society and life, to independently discover issues and work towards solving them subjectively and collaboratively. Thus, from the standpoint of active learning, teaching and learning methods must be reformed. The education council is currently deliberating the contents of the next revision of the Courses of Study, and is working to include English as an academic subject in elementary school.
 In the meanwhile, according to a recent international survey by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Japanese teachers work the longest hours compared to other countries. Such long working hours has resulted in an increase in overtime, while the number of teacher training hours has decreased. The current situation thus, makes it difficult for schools to swiftly respond to advancing such reforms.
 In order to correspond to such pressing educational issues, the education council strongly demands the enhancement of personnel mobility and fixed number of teachers.

 Moreover, in order for schools to demonstrate education functions to a maximum, it is essential to utilize experts to advance “team schools” , advance community schools and to utilize the wisdom and vitality of communities when establishing schools. As teachers will be mainly responsible for advancing these measures and educating children, educators must improve the quality of their classes by being well prepared, well trained, and be able to correspond to each student by providing them with sufficient instruction.

 Moreover, the teaching system must be enhanced and secured to further advance trust between the parents and the community. MEXT must make full efforts to realize these aims.

 The education council emphasizes the importance of examining the effectiveness of education based on evidence, and the continuous implementation of experimental studies in relation to education policy. MEXT has been implementing national academic surveys, has utilized these results to improve school education policy, and is working to further actively implement and develop such measures.
 In order to ascertain and analyze the complex relationship between educational activities and their effects, the evaluation of accumulated results from individual research is necessary in addition to establishing a comprehensive evaluation system.
 At the same time, children and parents are now faced with the issue of corresponding to student instruction and learning issues. It is, thus, necessary to continue making efforts to enhance the conditions of school education towards solving these issues.

 

 Elementary and Secondary Education Bureau
 Planning Division

 Lifelong Learning Policy Bureau
 Policy Planning and Coordination Division

(Higher Education Bureau, National University Corporation Support Division,Lifelong Learning Policy Bureau, Policy Planning and Coordination Division)