Beginning in April, local boards of education will be able to establish local resident advisory panels to school principals to enhance community-school cooperation, Education Minister Hirofumi Nakasone said Thursday. At a general meeting of the heads of prefectural boards of education held in Tokyo’s Minato Ward, Nakasone said the new advisory panel system will “open schools to the local community” and lay the groundwork for parents, residents and other interested parties to participate in school management. The plan is part of the ministry’s review of the application of the School Education Law. Under the system, local boards of education will decide whether to place a panel according to the needs of a school and the community, as well as the number and terms of panel members. Teachers and staff of the school to which a panel is to be set up cannot serve as members. The new system applies to both public and private schools from kindergarten to high school level, according to the plan. Nakasone also said the ministry will allow, if deemed appropriate, those who do not have a teacher’s license to become a school principal or vice principal from April. Currently, principals need to have teacher’s license and at least five years of teaching experience. Under the new system, a person who worked in fields related to education, including on a board of education, for more than 10 years can become a principal, as well as those who are regarded as having the same level of qualification. In some cases, a corporate executive or manager of a private cram school can become a principal. The new system will allow the selection of principals from a variety of professions.

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