8 The Promotion of Social Education

The Special Council for Education released an eleven-item report concerning popular education in December, 1918. The first four items were concerned with administration. The first item suggested that individuals from interest government agencies and nonofficial groups in various fields should be invited to the Ministry of Education to form study group in order to expand popular education outside of the schools. The second item was concerned with the appointment of a Ministry of Education official who would be responsible for the planning and effecting of the improvements in popular education facilities and the third item encouraged the appointment of those in charge of popular education at local communities. The fourth item emphasized the need of courses for training personnel who would be engaged in popular education. The improvement of course content and the betterment of the facilities were also considered. Indeed the Council's report provided a comprehensive plan for improving popular education. Further, advice was given to the authorities to acquire the funds necessary for these projects. From 1918 on, there was great encouragement for popular education, which, in turn, prepared the way for progress in the field of social education.

Adult education had, up to that time, been conducted through such organizations as head-of-family societies and women's clubs, but following World War I, the Ministry of Education recognized the need for the establishment of some sort of program and took the initiative in encouraging regular adult education through establishing a program to support public lectures and social courses. In 1919 the Ministry introduced a program of public lectures and social courses in fifteen government schools. This was extended and systematized by 1923 and a budget was set up in 1926 as the movement spread to communities throughout the country.

In January, 1924, the Federation of Social Education Groups (Kyoka Dantai Rengokai) was organized, which developed various adult education activities. In December, 1928, this organization became the Central Federation of Social Education Groups (Chuo Kyoka Dantai Rengokai) and strengthened the nationwide movement of social education.

By 1932 civic education courses were being conducted by government schools and appropriate institutions set up by the prefectures and all major cities. In addition to these there were also courses instituted for laborers, and where conditions permitted for agricultural workers, fishermen and merchants. The Ministry of Education issued instructions in December, 1930 which dealt with the encouragement of home education.

It was at this time that a number of youth groups began to be organized. A Center for Youth Groups (Seinendan Chuobu) came into being in Tokyo in November, 1916, and it was through the leadership of this organization that a national movement took shape. The First Nationwide General Assembly of the Federation of Youth Groups met for three days beginning on May 5, 1918. It proclaimed and confirmed its unity and its intent to further the movement. In September, 1921, the Japan Youth Center (Nippon Seinenkan) was founded with contributions of the members of the youth groups throughout the country. By October, 1924, there had developed the Greater Japan Federation of Youth Groups (Dai Nippon Rengo Seinendan). Throughout these early years instructions were being issued by both the Ministries of Home Affairs and Education in order to assist and guide the movement's development. In addition to the encouragement of boys' youth groups, instructions were issued in November, 1926, from the Home Affairs and Education Ministries encouraging the establishment of girls' groups, and in April, 1927, the Greater Japan Federation of Girls' Youth Groups (Dai Nippon Rengo Joshi Seinendan) was founded. Thereafter, as explained in a notice (tsucho) jointly issued by both of the Ministries in October, 1928, the responsibility for guiding youth groups of both sexes was made the exclusive jurisdiction of the Social Education Division of the Ministry of Education.

By 1928 there were 15,295 youth groups for boys with a membership of 2,534,326 and 13,043 girls' groups with a membership of 1,514,459. The total number of groups amounted to 28,338 with 4,048,785 members.

In connection with the children's group movement, the Japanese Association of the Boy Scouts (Shonendan Nippon Renmei) was organized in April, 1922, somewhat along the lines of the Boy Scouts. In October of that same year was also organized the Japanese Junior Red Cross (Shonen Sekijuji) and in June, 1934, the Imperial Association of Boys' Groups (Teikoku Shonendan Kyokai) was founded.

The 1935 Youth School Order was promulgated on April 1, 1935, and put in force on that day. By this Order, the system of youth schools was established in order to integrate youth training centers and vocational supplementary schools. In connection with this program the Ministry of Education with the cooperation of the Ministry of the Army stressed physical and mental discipline and virtue as well as vocational studies and the knowledge and skills necessary for everyday life. In addition to the Youth School Regulations, which were issued at the time of the promulgation of the 1935 Youth School Order and put in force at the same time, various related instructions were issued thereafter, including the August, 1935 instructions and the May, 1937 instructions concerning subjects to be taught in these schools.

Article 1 of the 1935 Youth School Order summed up the aims of the youth school as the provision of instruction in discipline and virtue of the mind and body for youths of both sexes and, at the same time, to instruct them in the knowledge and skills necessary for their vocation and everyday life, so as to assist them in the development of the requirement for the members of the Japanese nation. Of course, as most of the students attended these schools in addition to engaging in everyday employment, the instruction was much simpler and less regimented than that offered in ordinary schools. Special efforts were made in the planning of curriculum to adjust to the students' backgrounds and circumstances.

The youth schools were under the supervision of the Social Education Bureau of the Ministry of Education and according to the 1935 Youth School Order, the curriculum was divided into four courses: the general course, the regular course, the advanced course (kenkyuka) and the specialized course (senshuka). The general course lasted two years and the regular course lasted five years for boys and three years for girls though in special cases arising from local conditions one year could be dropped.

The general course included morals & civics, general subject, vocational training and physical education for boys. In addition for girls there were home economics & sewing. The regular course included morals & civics, general subject, vocational training and military drill. The girls' division omitted the last subject and added home economics & sewing and physical education. As the small number of hours available for instruction placed obvious limits on the scope of instruction these schools could offer, the emphasis was placed on integrating several contents in a single subject and in this way their curriculum differed from the standard one of middle level schools.

Following the 1935 Youth School Order instructions were issued in August, 1935, by the Ministry of Education, to offer outlines of subjects for youth schools. Later, details of these subjects were specified in the subsequent instructions: for morals & civics (in regular courses), home economics & sewing and physical education in May, 1937; for general subject (in regular courses) and military drill in August, 1938; for vocational training in December, 1938; and for morals & civics (in general courses) and general subject (in general courses) in May, 1939, respectively.

All these instructions were developed especially for working youths, and thus they paid special attention to the actual conditions of their everyday life, and much care was taken to assure the relevance of contents through these subjects.

As for other policies relating to social education, the Ministry of Education issued Regulations for Authorizing Books Available for Social Education (Tosho Nintei Kitei) in January, 1926, which came into force at that time and also issued Regulations for Recommending Books Available for Social Education (Tosho Suisen Kitei) in September, 1930, which came into force at that time. In May, 1923, Regulations for Authorizing Movie Films, Filmslides and Recording Suitable for Social Education were issued, which came into force at that time, to provide encouragement for these useful teaching aids. On the other hand, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued Regulations for the Censorship of Movie Films in May, 1925, which came into force in July of that year. Thus, film censorship was inaugurated. Prior to this, the Ministry of Education itself began to produce movie films for the promotion of social education. A system of distribution and lending of these movie films was set up in July, 1928.

Meanwhile, in order to foster the spread of social education, the Social Education Society (Shakai Kyotkukai) and the Social Education Association (Shakai Kyoiku Kyokai) were established in October and November of 1925, respectively. In March, 1928, the Association of Museums (which became later, in December, 1940, the corporate Japanese Association of Museums) was instituted followed by the incorporation of the existing Japan Library Association in November, 1930. Thus this was a period of considerable development in the field of social education.


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

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