• Kyodo

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The education ministry is considering providing information on the novel coronavirus in multiple languages by email to unauthorized schools for foreign nationals, an official said Saturday.

The plan is part of preparations for a possible cluster of infections as schools not licensed by Japanese authorities could be left out from various forms of official support.

The ministry will seek help from embassies and support groups for foreign nationals to create a list of unauthorized schools and send information deemed necessary to them in multiple languages, including English and Portuguese, according to the official.

The government is not sure of the exact number of unauthorized schools for foreign nationals.

According to a 2019 survey conducted by the ministry, there were 124,000 foreign children aged between six and 15 in Japan and as many as 19,000 were believed to have stayed out of formal schooling, with some of them apparently receiving education at home or through unauthorized schools.

The ministry aims to use collected data beyond its response to the virus in the future to improve education support for foreign children, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

As of March 2019, there were 126 authorized foreign schools in Japan, according to the ministry, which provided masks to them as part of steps to protect children and teachers from COVID-19. Such schools are eligible to receive subsidies from local governments in some cases as well.

But unauthorized schools, which apparently exist in all sizes across Japan, remain outside the scope of aid since it is unknown where they are or how many children attend them. It is said some children are taught privately in small groups in apartment rooms.

In Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, there are three schools catering to the Brazilian community of some 9,000, with one remaining unregistered and thus unable to receive the prefecture’s subsidies.

The city provides up to ¥10,000 to each foreign family with students to cover expenses for textbooks, regardless of which school they attend.

Toyota, Aichi Prefecture, supports two unlicensed Brazilian schools with carrying out disaster drills and health checkups, in addition to assistance with precautions against the virus.

Noting that translating virus-related information is time-consuming work, a Toyota city official said, “If the government actively gets involved in the process, it will become easier for us to work together (with such schools).”

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