Most education boards confident political neutrality can be maintained in high school classrooms

JIJI

About 80 percent of the nation’s prefectural education boards are confident they can provide politically neutral education at high schools, a recent Jiji Press survey showed.

This summer’s House of Councilors election will be the first national poll conducted under the new voting age of 18, which takes effect June 19, meaning some high school students will be eligible to cast ballots.

In a survey earlier this year, 37 of the 47 prefectural education boards said political neutrality will be ensured. In explaining the answer, some cited plans to ensure teachers are well prepared.

The other 10 education boards said they could not give a clear answer.

Kanagawa Prefecture’s education board said it has been providing guidance to teachers through seminars. Kochi Prefecture’s board said it plans to urge schools to follow instructions provided by the education ministry.

The board in Yamagata said that discussions on varying political views are part of political education in the prefecture.

The board in Shizuoka said teachers are asking how much political activity students should be allowed to engage in.

In the same survey, 15 prefectural election boards showed confidence that political neutrality could be maintained in high school, while 32 others refrained from giving clear answers.

The survey also revealed that at least 976 of all high schools in the country, or one in six, have invited or plan to invite officials from election boards to lecture students during fiscal 2015, which ends in March.

Mock elections were held or are planned in 529 high schools in fiscal 2015. In fiscal 2016, Kanagawa’s education board plans to hold mock elections at 145 schools in the prefecture when the Upper House poll is held.