Demand for educational reform met

Ministry launches 41 pilot projects in an effort to improve curricula

The Education Ministry is to launch 41 pilot projects involving various educational institutions this academic year, including one in which elementary school students in grade one and above are taught English daily, ministry officials said.

The move reflects calls by an education reform panel of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party last summer to increase the number of schools introducing original curricula free from guidelines drawn up by the ministry, the officials said Thursday.

Other projects include the introduction of a system under which teachers specializing in certain subjects teach those subjects to elementary school students in the fifth and sixth grades, a change from the current system in which a single teacher covers every subject.

The ministry is also encouraging kindergartens and elementary schools to cooperate on curricula so as to allow students a smooth start to elementary school, they said.

The moves are aimed at coping with the breakdown of classroom discipline.

In another project, a high school and college will work together in allowing students to study abroad for a year upon finishing a combined six years at the institutions, instead of the current seven years.

The ministry commissioned the projects to 13 national schools, 27 prefectural or municipal government-run schools and one private school.

Narita Elementary School in Narita, Chiba Prefecture, is to teach students English for 20 minutes a day from next week, the officials said.

The elementary school affiliated with state-run Kagoshima University is to allow teachers specializing in certain subjects to teach those subjects to fifth- and sixth-grade students.

That school and the junior high school affiliated with the university will also adopt comprehensive English-language education for students.

Higashi Elementary School and Higashi Junior High School in Ogaki, Gifu Prefecture, will create a course that combines moral education, extracurricular activities and interdisciplinary studies.

Tokyo Technical High School, attached to the Nippon Institute of Technology in Tokyo, is to draw up a program that would combine the school’s curriculum and that of the institute in order to have them run for a combined six years.

The school hopes the change will allow students to study abroad or work as an intern at a corporation for a year.

The kindergarten, elementary school and junior high school attached to state-run Kagawa University in Kagawa Prefecture will tie up with the university-affiliated school for handicapped children to explore ways to teach students with learning disabilities, according to the officials.