• Kyodo

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The number of children eligible for school expense subsidies in the three northeastern prefectures hardest hit by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami rose to 67,000 in fiscal 2013, up some 17,000 from three years ago, a survey by Kyodo News showed Wednesday.

The latest available data in the year ended March 2014 appears to reflect the slow recovery in the three prefectures — Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima — as households continue to struggle.

Groups supporting such children said they face the prospect of remaining poor if they give up pursuing higher education for financial reasons.

The number of elementary school and junior high school pupils who are eligible to receive financial aid, including expenses for school supplies and school trips, was 49,969, or 10.5 percent of the total, in fiscal 2010, increasing to 76,608, or 16.7 percent, in fiscal 2011 immediately after the massive quake and ensuing tsunami occurred.

The figure in fiscal 2013 was slightly down from 71,413, or 15.9 percent, in fiscal 2012, but still high compared with before the disaster.

In the tally, Kyodo News drew on data provided by the education boards of the three prefectures.

“If the economic situation in households has not improved after 4½ years, poverty is likely to be fixed and have an impact on the children’s future,” said Yusuke Imai, head of Chance for Children that provides educational support in the affected region.

“The situation has not become better since the disaster,” said an elementary school teacher in a coastal area of Iwate Prefecture.

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