• Kyodo

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The government plans to supply more personal computers to Japanese schools overseas so students can continue to study remotely at home while avoiding the coronavirus.

The education ministry intends to ensure each pupil at Japanese elementary and high schools abroad has access to a computer, widening the scope of the existing domestic initiative.

It is estimated that about 12,000 pupils and teachers at such schools need new PCs or tablet devices, and the goverment plans to start distributing them as early as this fall, in addition to shouldering half the costs.

For schools that want to add more than 50 computers, the government will dispatch information and communication technology experts for the task and pay half the costs.

For the project, the ministry has set aside ¥500 million ($4.6 million) in the draft second supplementary budget for fiscal 2020. It will examine the academic effect of the project at around 30 of the schools and provide up to ¥6 million for trial operations, such as joint online courses involving multiple schools, ministry officials said.

Globally, there are about 100 Japanese schools, where roughly 17,000 children are enrolled, according to the Education Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry.

Although around 13,000 of them were still operational as of late April, only around 30 percent, including those in Beijing and Shanghai, had resumed classes by May 28, according to the ministry.

Japanese schools in the United States, Italy and other parts of the world hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic are expected to stay closed for even longer.

Due to travel restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic, many of the Japanese schools do not have enough teachers to hold face-to-face classes.

More than 90 percent of the approximately 500 teachers who were scheduled to be dispatched overseas in April, when the school year starts, have yet to arrive because of travel restrictions implemented worldwide for the virus.

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