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E-learning program providers are offering their services for free to help students keep up with their studies while schools in Japan remain closed over the coronavirus outbreak.

Major manga publishers are taking the same step to keep students entertained as the government calls on students to remain indoors until schools reopen in early April, at the earliest.

Recruit Marketing Partners Co. on Tuesday started to offer its online educational service for free. The online program allows students from fourth grade to high school to watch lectures by cram school teachers on subjects such as mathematics and history.

The service will be free until April 30.

The company is also offering for free a service that allows teachers to assign homework and conduct tests online, amid concern among both schools and parents about how children can keep up with their studies during the closures.

“I think it’s the first time that schools nationwide have faced a long-term closure without any advance notice, and many schools haven’t prepared homework for students,” company spokeswoman Hiroko Saito said. “We decided to offer the free service as we wanted to help such schools.”

Most of the nation’s elementary, junior high and high schools shut their doors Monday in response to a sudden request to do so from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last week amid concern over the spread of the coronavirus.

Schools normally stay open until the latter half of March ahead of a spring break lasting for around two weeks.

Classi Corp., a Tokyo-based educational platform operator and a joint venture between education service provider Benesse Holdings Inc. and SoftBank Corp., will also offer a free service to high schools nationwide from next Monday to April 30. In addition to providing lecture videos, the platform allows students and teachers to communicate directly.

“We would like to help in any way we can, as some schools that have already introduced our service said it helped them,” spokeswoman Kanako Shibata said.

Sharp Corp. began providing free online learning materials Tuesday to elementary and junior high school students. After obtaining an account from their schools, the students can use a computer or a tablet at home to answer questions across five subjects, such as Japanese, social studies and math.

The service featuring more than 60,000 questions across the five subjects was jointly developed with Shingakukai Holdings Co., which operates cram schools. Use of the service for a five-year period is usually sold to schools for about ¥3 million.

Online content provider Dwango Co. also made its learning application for high school students publicly available for free on Sunday. Students can watch live streaming of classes, study to prepare for university entrance exams and review what they learned at junior high schools.

The company usually charges ¥1,000 per month for the service.

Meanwhile, in a bid to entertain students asked to remain indoors during the school closures, major publishers Shueisha Inc. and Shogakukan Inc. started free distribution of the back issues of their manga magazines — Weekly Shonen Jump and the monthly Coro Coro Comic, respectively.

“We hope children and other people who have difficulty going outside can have fun,” said an official with Shonen Jump’s editorial department.

Through smartphone apps, the first to 13th volumes of Shonen Jump released this year will be available until the end of this month, while Coro Coro Comic’s January edition has already been distributed, with following editions also set to be made public.


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