An education ministry panel recommended Monday that moral education, widely taught as an extracurricular activity, be included in the official curriculum of public elementary and junior high schools.
The panel’s draft report proposes students be taught using state-authorized textbooks compiled by private-sector publishers.
The panel plans to finalize its views by the end of the year, after which the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry will consult with the Central Council for Education, a ministerial advisory body, with a view to introducing the subject in the 2015 school year.
Some teachers and politicians are concerned about formally evaluating moral education, fearing it could lead to particular values being imposed on children. The Central Council for Education may modify the proposal in light of these concerns.
In February, the government’s education task force, which was set up to respond to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s call for education reform, suggested the inclusion of moral education in the curriculum as an anti-bullying measure.
Opinions differ within the ministry as to the appropriateness of dictating detailed moral standards. The panel recommended the use of broad standards to vet textbooks for the subject, “such as whether they accord with the principles of the Constitution, other laws and curricular guidelines.”