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Education minister Takeo Kawamura asked the Central Education Council on Thursday to overhaul the 55-year-old board of education system.

The council was asked to review the role and significance of the local boards with special focus on their relations with schools and the heads of local governments, and on expanding their fields, which come under educational administration.

Analysts said the current system has reached a turning point, having been instituted in 1948. The system was created with the aim of letting local boards take the lead in educational policies according to the needs of each community and maintaining political neutrality.

The Central Education Council, which operates under the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry, plans to draw up a report in about a year, ministry officials said.

Kawamura’s request came in response to increasing calls for reforming or scrapping the current board of education system, which, according to the heads of some local governments, has come under increasing influence from the central government.

The council is expected to discuss ways to ensure swift decision-making in local boards and to increase accountability in response to criticism that the boards have become purely honorary offices.

It will discuss ways to enhance cooperation between the heads of local governments and the boards.

The council will also discuss whether to lessen the influence boards have over schools in order to enhance the autonomy of schools and enable them to respond directly to the demands of their communities.

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