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Some 289 teachers at public elementary and junior high schools have been judged by local education boards to be lacking in leadership skills, according to an education ministry report released Friday.

The figure is based on the findings of boards in the nation’s 47 prefectures and larger cities for the 2002 school year to March 31.

It is nearly double the 149 teachers who were considered below par the previous year, officials at the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry said. Of the teachers criticized in the latest report, three were fired because they were found to be “terribly lacking” in the required skills, the ministry said.

According to ministry officials, these skills include the ability to communicate with students and to conduct classes that involve sufficient interaction between the teacher and the class.

The increase in teachers who lack these skills is viewed as as one factor behind a phenomenon dubbed “classroom collapse,” in which pupils become restless and do not listen to the teacher, effectively leading to disorder during lessons.

As a countermeasure, the ministry in 2000 launched a personnel management system under which teachers are evaluated. As the evaluation process evolves, more teachers are being found to lack what is needed for the job, according to ministry officials.

In the 2002 school year, 19 teachers were reprimanded over their failure to meet the required standards. As a result of screening their cases, three teachers — one apiece in Kanagawa, Kyoto and Tokushima prefectures — were dismissed.

One was demoted, while the remaining 15 were suspended from their duties.

Meanwhile, 56 teachers asked to resign during the year, up from 38 the previous year.

A total of 49 managerial-class teachers, including one principal, asked to be demoted to regular teacher status during the year, roughly double the 25 who submitted requests of this kind the 2001 school year. Yuzuru Nakamura, secretary general of the Japan Teachers’ Association, called on local education boards to ensure that the evaluation of teachers is conducted in a multilateral manner, so that the opinions of colleagues and local teachers’ unions are reflected, as well as those of school principals.