About 40% of Japanese schools affected by 3/11 still in temporary buildings


Forty percent of the roughly 160 schools that were seriously affected by the 2011 disasters are still holding classes in temporary buildings or by borrowing rooms at other schools, a Kyodo News tally of local education boards showed.

The tally, released Tuesday, suggests that parts of the education system remain in a state of limbo five years on. It examined public schools in coastal areas of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures and municipalities currently or formerly subject to evacuation orders following the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

Students studying in temporary buildings or at other schools cannot freely use playgrounds and gymnasiums. There have also been cases where gym or science equipment is limited, local education board officials said.

Walls are often thin in prefabricated buildings and some children complain that they cannot concentrate.

Some students have been unable to spend as much time on club activities as they used to because they do not have enough space on school premises, and some have been forced to make longer commutes.

Of the 63 elementary, junior, senior high and other schools that have not returned to normal, Fukushima had the largest number at 39.

Prefectural officials said they do not know when 19 of the 39 schools will be able to leave their temporary facilities.

In Iwate and Miyagi, the prospects for only one school each remain unclear. Such situations raise concerns about students’ well-being and academic performance, officials said.

Meanwhile, the officials said they expect the predicaments of 42 schools in the three prefectures to be resolved within a few years because new school buildings will be completed or because they have decided to merge with other schools.