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The school textbook screening process may become more simple and transparent beginning in 2000, and students’ school bags may become less bulky, the Education Ministry said Friday.

In proposed revision compiled by the Textbook Authorization Research Council, the screening process will have one less step — that for detecting typographic errors — and inspectors will be required to put in writing the reason for change requests.

With the revision, the process will be shortened by two weeks to a month, according to the council. Currently, the process takes a full year. “We want (future) textbooks to be easier to understand and encourage children to spontaneously learn and think (from reading them),” said Hideto Tsukioka, director of the ministry’s textbook division.

The textbook screening process will be amended to meet the implementation of new courses of study in 2002 for elementary and junior high schools and in 2003 for high schools.

Reflecting the proposed changes in studies — such as fewer class hours and a slimmer curriculum for some mandatory courses — most textbooks are expected to be less bulky after 2002.

Under the proposed revision, textbook publishers will also save time by being freed of the current process’ initial step, in which inspectors check 10 random pages for typos. If more than six are spotted, the text is returned to publishers for a fresh full review.

The proposed system is likely to make the ministry more transparent in its screening process, as revision requests would be put in writing, rather than made orally.

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