Posted by debito on February 2nd, 2008
Hi Blog. An excellent roundup of what’s been covered on Debito.org for quite some time–the emerging underclass of NJ children without an education guaranteed them in Japan. Here are the problems in nutshell. Debito
POINT OF VIEW/ Nobuyuki Sato: Schools for foreign children deserve support
01/28/2008 The Asahi Shinbun
Courtesy of Steve Silver
More than 2.08 million foreigners now live in Japan. With the rise in international marriages between Japanese and non-Japanese, the number of children who have dual nationality is also increasing. Of them, tens of thousands attend schools for foreigners.
Currently, there are about 100 schools for North and South Korean and Chinese children. In recent years, a growing number of people from South America and elsewhere have settled in Japan.
Schools to accommodate children of such “newcomers” are also increasing. There are 94 Brazilian schools and also schools for children from Peru, India, the Philippines and other countries. The total number of schools for newcomers exceeds 100.
Chinese schools in Japan have a history of more than 100 years, while ethnic Koreans from North and South Korea established schools for their children after World War II to teach them the language and cultures of their motherland. Thus, schools for foreigners in Japan have various backgrounds.
Schools for newcomers are concentrated in the Tokai and northern Kanto regions, home to many Brazilians and Peruvians who work as dispatch employees at automakers and other factories.
A Brazilian school in Ibaraki Prefecture celebrated its 10th anniversary last year. It started out as an unauthorized day-care center for children whose parents work at factories from early morning until late at night. As the children grew, the center set up elementary and junior high school classes.
The government does not recognize schools for foreigners as regular schools that provide general education. Therefore, they do not receive any government subsidies. Most of the schools are supported by donations from fellow countrymen.
While donations to European and American schools are now tax-exempt, the same rule does not apply to North and South Korean and Chinese schools, which are also categorized as kakushu gakko (miscellaneous schools).
Since most schools of newcomers are not even recognized as kakushu gakko but are treated as “private juku,” they are not even eligible for subsidies from local governments.
Some local governments have eased authorization standards for kakushu gakko. But in Gunma, Saitama and other prefectures that apply strict standards for authorization, it is difficult for most schools for newcomers to meet the requirements. Many of them rent small factories that went out of business and split them into six to nine classrooms to give lessons. Such schools do not even have gymnasiums or schoolyards.
Japanese children are guaranteed free compulsory education at public elementary and junior high schools. Accredited private schools also receive generous government subsidies. However, when parents of foreign nationality enroll their children at foreign schools because they want them to learn the languages and cultures of their homelands, they are not eligible for public support measures.
Moreover, at schools not authorized as kakushu gakko, consumption tax is imposed on tuition. Since students are not eligible for a student commuter pass, parents are required to bear a heavier financial burden than their counterparts at Japanese schools.
Although there are more than 200 foreign schools in Japan, few public subsidies apply to them. Most of the schools rely on the self-help efforts of foreign communities alone and are excluded from the realm of public education.
I believe there are few countries in the world like Japan where foreign schools are at a disadvantage compared with regular schools.
As Japan is about to become a “multinational, multiracial and multicultural” society, it is time we break away from “national education” and switch to “multiracial and multicultural symbiotic education.”
For that, we must establish guidelines for education that embrace multiracial and multicultural values and immediately implement systematic support, such as legislation to promote measures for schools for foreigners.
Doing so also meets Japan’s obligation under the international conventions on human rights including the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.
It is also the duty of adults for children of the 21st century.
* * *
The author heads the research-action institute for Koreans in Japan. (IHT/Asahi: January 28,2008)