Only six colleges giving credits to students for volunteer activities

Kyodo

Only six universities are known to be giving academic credits to students for volunteer activities to help survivors of the March 11 catastrophe, education ministry officials said Tuesday.

They are Yamagata, Iwate, Shiga, Oita, Meiji and Bunkyo universities.

After the massive disaster, the education ministry allowed universities and colleges to give credit to students for volunteer activities to help the victims.

At Meiji University in Tokyo, a volunteer activity course on the disaster was launched and is intended to give credits to students who attended lectures in advance, did volunteer work and filed reports.

A Meiji University official said it is meaningful that students could help disaster victims and that their activities could increase their autonomy and social skills.

Iwate University, in Morioka, the capital of Iwate Prefecture, launched a community support course that gives students credit for five days of volunteer activities and reports on them. But the credits can’t be counted toward graduation.

The University of Tokyo said it will carefully study if it should give credits to students for such volunteer activities, noting that such activities do not necessarily comply with each department’s educational policy.

Aoyama Gakuin University, a private university in Tokyo, said it plans to send students to disaster-hit areas during the summer break but hasn’t decided to give credits for such activities.

Masakiyo Murai, leader of a nongovernment organization on disaster-relief activities in Kobe, said it may be meaningful to give academic credits to students if it motivates them to be involved in volunteer activities. But students shouldn’t do such activities only to gain academic credit, he said.