An overwhelming majority of parents with school-age children know little about a 1947 basic charter that stipulates the guiding principles of the nation’s education system, according to a recent survey conducted by an umbrella group of PTAs across the country.
The survey was undertaken by the Japan PTA Council amid government efforts to review the Fundamental Law of Education, which has become a battleground for conservatives and liberals fighting to dictate the future goals of education.
Some 84 percent of respondents to the survey said they knew very little about the existing law. Forty-five percent of the respondents said there should be further debate on whether the education law should be reviewed with an eye toward making revisions, while 34 percent said they had no idea whether there should be a review.
The council views the results as evidence that “most people are not in a position to make a clear-cut judgment” on whether the government should press for revision.
The Central Council for Education has compiled draft amendments to the Fundamental Law of Education that calls for instilling patriotism in children, strengthening moral education and bolstering respect for traditional Japanese culture. The education ministry hopes to submit a bill to the Diet in 2003.
The current law emphasizes individual self-esteem and the independence of children.
The PTA council said it conducted the survey between May and July, sending questionnaires to 6,000 members of PTA groups across the country and receiving a response rate of 80.5 percent.
When asked whether they knew anything about the basic education law, 43 percent said they had never read it or learned of its contents, 43 percent said they had seen or heard about the law but knew little of its contents, and 10 percent said they had a general idea of the law’s objectives.
According to the council, the number of people who said they oppose a revision rose in proportion with their level of knowledge concerning the law.
Among the respondents who said they had a general idea of the law’s contents, 21 percent said they favored revising the law, while 14 percent said they saw no need for a revision.
Among respondents who said they knew the basic education law well, 24 percent objected to a revision while 16 percent called for a review.