National

Rule change lets education boards vary summer holidays to increase family time

Kyodo

The government on Friday approved a change in guidelines that allows local education boards to set summer holidays at different times of the year to encourage more family time in the chronically overworked country.

Under the Kids’ Week initiative, which the government aims to begin in fiscal 2018 starting in April, the guidelines will include a provision for “holidays for educational experiences in the home or local region.”

Education boards will be asked to split up holidays appropriately on a regional basis. The change to the guidelines for implementing the school education law will take effect Wednesday.

The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is framing Kids’ Week as part of its drive to reform working practices, including the way people take holidays.

By varying summer holidays, the government hopes to make it easier for parents to take paid leave at holiday times and spend more time with their children as a result.

But to fully achieve this, companies will have to come up with ways to encourage employees to take their paid holidays, and government bodies will likely need to revise their respective guidelines based on labor regulations.

“In order to give children an abundance of learning (opportunities) and promote the taking of paid leave by their guardians, we need to promote a diverse variety of opportunities for activity,” Education Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said after the Cabinet decision.

“We want (boards of education) to decide flexibly on the number of holidays and the time of year they will be taken, in response to the circumstances of the students and the local area,” Hayashi said.

If different regions take holidays at different times, families will be able to avoid crowds and lines in peak times at tourism destinations.

Many elementary, junior high and high schools in Japan usually take summer holidays from late July through the end of August.

As an example of a potential change, some days could be taken out of the beginning and the end of summer holiday period and moved to a weekend in autumn to create a long holiday period.

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