(1)Shared responsibilities, partnership and cooperation among relevant parties

1)The roles of the national government in the implementation of this Plan

 In order to ensure effectiveness of this Basic Plan for the Promotion of Education, the national government needs to establish close partnership with relevant ministries in the course of promoting the measures, including priority measures, while verifying performance and efficient and effective implementation of the measures. To this end, it is necessary for the national government to promote cooperation with education administration and other relevant administrative organs engaged in child welfare, vocational training, etc.

 In addition, based on the understanding that the promotion of education should be carried out through a society-wide commitment involving diverse parties, the national government needs to pay close attention, in the course of promoting the measures, to diverse activities conducted by diverse parties in diverse fields, including local governments, businesses engaged in education, private organizations, including NPOs, etc., while making efforts to establish appropriate cooperation with those parties and taking necessary actions to improve efficiency or effectiveness of their activities.

2) Expected role of local governments

 For the promotion of education, local governments are expected to establish and implement their measures in a way that ensures appropriate shared responsibilities with the national government and also ensures suitability of the measures for their economic and social conditions, and are required to satisfy the needs of local citizens and fulfill their responsibilities.

 It is also necessary to understand that the role of municipal governments and that of prefectural governments are different. Municipal governments are close to local citizens and are thus required to understand their needs sufficiently while ensuring cooperation with relevant parties. Specifically, municipal governments have the responsibilities to establish elementary and junior high schools necessary for the execution of compulsory education and implement educational activities. In addition, municipal governments are responsible for the establishment and administration of municipal high schools, universities, libraries, museums, community halls, gymnasiums, etc. as well as the implementation of various projects concerning education, culture and sports. On the other hand, prefectural governments are responsible for the implementation of wide-area, cross-municipality educational projects, the establishment and administration of high schools and universities, the assistance to municipalities to improve educational environments, and guidance, advice and aid necessary for an appropriate implementation of municipal educational projects. With the progress of decentralization into the future, respective governments are further required to fulfill their responsibilities in an autonomous manner.

 The revised Basic Act on Education provides that local governments are required to formulate their respective basic plan on the measures to be implemented in their respective regions to promote education according to regional circumstances, while taking into consideration the Basic Plan for the Promotion of Education established by the national government. Many local governments are already in the process of promoting their education measures based on their plan. It is hoped that local governments will further promote their measures based on the understanding of this Plan of the national government as well as on an autonomous judgment of what measures are specifically needed for comprehensive promotion of education in their regions corresponding to regional circumstances and what framework is needed for the implementation of the measures.

 The trend of decentralization is expected to continue in the future, and in this light, regional combined efforts are indispensable as the strength to sustain and develop communities, and it is “developing human resources” that constitutes the bottommost essential for regional vitalization. Circumstances and problems vary according to regions, and it is hoped that local governments will formulate measures suited to their respective regions to materialize good education characteristic of their region, with an attitude of giving education the highest priority.

(2) Financial measures for education and the intensive and efficient use thereof

 It can be said that education creates the foundation that sustains our society. From the perspective of equal learning opportunities as provided for by Article 26 of the Constitution of Japan, education should be provided smoothly and continuously. In this light, the revised Basic Act on Education provides, in paragraph 4 of its Article 16, that the national and local governments shall take necessary financial measures to ensure the smooth and continuous provision of education. In order to ensure the promotion of education in Japan, it is necessary for the national and local governments to understand their respective roles and implement necessary financial measures respectively.

 Considering the severe financial conditions of our country, it is necessary to continue to make necessary reforms, including reform of expenditures. In order to maximize the level of effective utilization of limited budgets, it is essential to ensure strict selection and intensive implementation of the measures while making efforts toward cost reduction, so that the measures can be implemented effectively. When a new measure is to be implemented, it is necessary to review existing measures for necessary changes or replacements with the new one.

 In addition, when we think of the reality that more than 70% of public expenditures on education come from local finances in Japan, the role of local governments is significant to the promotion of education in this country. Although local finances are also in a severe condition equaling the national treasury, it is strongly hoped that local governments will be dedicated to the promotion of education in their respective regions, with creativity and originality as well as a sense of responsibility and the understanding of respective regional circumstances.

 Furthermore, it is necessary to promote institutional development including tax privilege utilization, to encourage voluntary efforts of respective educational organizations and facilitate their utilization of outside funds, including contributions from companies or citizens as well as funds for joint research funded by private corporations.

(3) Collection and release of accurate information and the effort to understand public opinions to have them reflected in measures

 In the course of promoting this Basic Plan for the Promotion of Education, it is necessary to secure transparency of planning and implementation processes of the measures and also to obtain wide participation of citizens in promoting the measures. To this end, it is important to ensure that collection and release of information on education measures are conducted promptly and accurately, while making efforts to have sufficient understanding of public opinions, through increased public hearings, for instance, to have the opinions reflected in measures.

(4)Response to emerging issues

 The national government is expected to make intensive efforts for the promotion of education for the next five years, especially through the steady implementation of the measures mentioned above in Chapter 3. At the same time, we need to understand that the circumstances concerning education with which we need to cope are changing day by day alongside rapid social changes. In order to address rapid changes, it is necessary to be flexible and swift in figuring out what should be done and take quick actions.

(5) Examination of the progress and necessary revision of this Plan

 In order for this Plan to be implemented effectively and steadily, it is essential to examine the progress on a regular basis, not based on the indicator of quantitative accomplishments but based on the index of performance, and feed examination results back to planning. Therefore, relevant ministries should make a yearly examination of the progress of their respective measures. When finding any measure failing to achieve expected performance, it might be necessary to decide to discontinue such measure.

 It is also necessary to widely inform the public of the state of progress of each measure every year.

 Since this Basic Plan for the Promotion of Education shows the measures to be implemented for the next five years, it is necessary to conduct a review after five years from the launch, to design a plan for the next term. However, this Plan could be partially revised anytime in the middle of the term under any special circumstance.

(Office for the Promotion of Educational Reform, Policy Planning and Coordination Division, Lifelong Learning Policy Bureau)