Special Needs Education is education for students with disabilities, in consideration of their individual educational needs, which aims at full development of their capabilities and at their independence and social participation. Special Needs Education is carried out in various forms, including in resource rooms, in special classes ( both are in regular schools ), and in special schools named “Schools for Special Needs Education”.

 Formerly, special schools had been established separately by types of disabilities, as “Schools for the Blind”, “Schools for the Deaf” and “Schools for the Intellectually Disabled, the Physically Disabled and the Health Impaired”. However, the number of children with multiple disabilities is recently increasing, and in order to appropriately meet their needs, the School Education Law was partially amended and enacted in FY 2007. Under the new “Schools for Special Needs Education” system, one particular school can accept several types of disabilities.

 Schools for Special Needs Education are schools for children with comparatively severe disabilities. Those schools comprise four levels of departments, namely, kindergarten, elementary, lower secondary and upper secondary departments. (The elementary and the lower secondary are compulsory education.) In Schools for Special Needs Education, children learn by special curriculum, being surrounded by rich number of teachers and various facilities and equipment which meet the needs of those children. Therefore, the expense per student in Schools for Special Needs Education is about 10 times as that in regular schools.

 Special Needs Education is provided also in regular schools. Special classes are small classes for children with comparatively mild disabilities that may be established in regular elementary and lower secondary schools. It may also be established as a branch class in a hospital for sick children.

 There is another program of resource rooms (in regular elementary and secondary schools) where children with disabilities who are enrolled in and studying most of the time in regular classes may visit few times a week to receive special instruction. The disabilities covered in this program are speech impairment, autism, emotional disturbance, low vision, hard-of-hearing, Learning Disabilities (LD), Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and others.

 In addition, various efforts are made in regular classes, such as instruction in small groups, team-teaching, instruction according to different achievement levels and the use of support assistants.

 Furthermore, since FY2003, MEXT has commissioned all prefectures with the implementation of the “Project for the Promotion of the Special Needs Education System” in order to lay the foundation for a comprehensive education support system for children with Developmental Disabilities such as LD, ADHD etc. studying in regular elementary and secondary school classes. This project has been expanded to include kindergartens and high schools in addition to elementary and secondary schools, so that consistent support is expected to be provided to children with disabilities for the whole period from infancy to employment.

 MEXT has also promoted welfare education through stepped-up exchanges and joint learning of children with disabilities and those non-disabled conducted as part of school education and through awareness-raising activities targeting local residents.

(Special Needs Education Division, Elementary and Secondary Education Bureau)