Teachers must sincerely respond to criticism directed at schools, the head of the Japan Teachers’ Union (Nikkyoso) said Thursday.

Speaking at the opening of Nikkyoso’s three-day regular convention in Tokyo, Chairman Yuji Kawakami said teachers must reform the current education system, which is focused on entrance examinations. He said teachers must sincerely accept criticism of schools in connection with issues such as bullying and juvenile crime.

Kawakami said such problems are not only the product of the school environment but the erosion of educational functions of families and local communities within society. Kawakami also said some teachers are finding it difficult to grasp and understand the feelings of children, and called for a reduction in class sizes and an increase in school budgets.

He stressed that Nikkyoso must air its views on educational reform to the Central Council for Education, since it will submit a report on reform proposals for the 21 century this year.

Kawakami said it will be important to introduce curricula that ensure flexibility in schools when the five-day school week is introduced in 2002.

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