Non-English schools hope for aid

by Minoru Matsutani

Private international high schools where English is not the language of instruction are hoping they will be eligible for planned annual subsidies of ¥120,000 per student, according to school officials.

Unlike at more expensive English-based international schools, the subsidies, which would be disbursed at the discretion of the education ministry, would go a long way to covering tuition.

“The discount of ¥120,000 would be a big relief for parents,” said Chang Chienkuo, acting headmaster of Tokyo Chinese School, in Chiyoda Ward. The school, where classes are taught in Chinese, charges high school students an annual tuition of ¥558,000.

“I hope the government considers international schools among the educational institutions in Japan.”

The ruling Democratic Party of Japan aims to pass a bill to scrap tuition for public high schools and provide a per-student subsidy of ¥120,000 a year to families whose children attend private high schools, including some, but not all, institutions catering to foreign students.

International schools are categorized as “kakushu gakkou,” or miscellaneous schools. If the bill clears the Diet by the end of the month, the subsidy will be applicable in April to “the type of miscellaneous schools whose curriculum is equivalent to that of Japanese high schools.”

Education ministry official Kazuhiro Kuriyama said the ministry will devise a guideline on which types of miscellaneous schools are entitled to the subsidy as soon as the bill is passed. Yun Taigil, an official at Tokyo Korean Junior & Senior High School in Kita Ward, where the tuition is ¥384,000 a year, said parents have high hopes for the bill.

But because it is a pro-Pyongyang school, it may face exclusion from the subsidy program due to Tokyo’s political row with the North.

“It’s wrong to exclude (pro-Pyongyang) schools, because children have nothing to do with politics,” Yun said.

Meanwhile, the subsidies are unlikely to have much impact at English-language international schools, where the tuitions typically run as high as about ¥2 million a year. In many cases, parents’ companies foot the bill for the children’s education.

“There won’t be much impact,” an official at St. Mary’s International School in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward said. “But there is nothing negative about this, either.”