Abe pushes for beefing up state role in education

by Hiroko Nakata

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday he will introduce a package of legislation designed to give the central government a bigger role in the public school system.

Abe has made educational reform one of his policy priorities, but this latest move will likely draw strong opposition from local governments, who see it as running counter to the current trend of decentralizing national administrative powers.

The proposed legislation gives the education minister the authority to issue instructions to local boards of education when it is deemed that student safety is being threatened by bullying or other problems. The minister will also be allowed to demand that education boards correct situations where it is believed that students’ educational rights are being violated.

Abe also said he instructed education minister Bunmei Ibuki to begin working on a bill for the package so the Diet can pass it during the ongoing session that runs through June.

Abe made the comment after the Central Council for Education presented a report containing various opinions on the state’s plan to play a bigger role in public education.