The ruling coalition has passed through the Diet three education-related bills regarded by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as most important. But the bills will result only in more state control of education, imposition of the government’s own interpretation of the nation’s history and culture on students, and regimentation of teachers leading to deprivation of their autonomy and creativity.
Meddling by a government far removed from the actual education scene will not only be useless in solving real problems but also carry the danger of creating an undemocratic system.
The revised school education law lists “public spirit” and an “attitude of loving the nation” as important education goals. Students also must be led to a “correct understanding” of the nation’s history. The government will easily instill its own ideology related to the nation’s history and culture in the minds of students. This will hamper children’s developing critical minds and unique ways of seeing things.
The law also establishes three managerial positions under the principle at elementary and middle schools. This is likely to lead to the creation of a top-down system, dispiriting teachers and stifling their autonomous efforts to improve education. The law also calls for evaluation of schools under terms set by the education minister. This will impose an excessive uniformity on schools.
The revised teacher’s license law calls for the renewal of licenses every 10 years. Teachers will have to undergo 30 hours of training to renew their licenses. The system will put psychological pressure on teachers and thus deter university students from becoming teachers. In addition, it is not certain how useful the 30-hour training course will be. The education ministry may be able to purge certain types of teachers by manipulating the contents of the training course. License renewals aren’t required for other professions — including medical doctors. One wonders why the government is focusing on teachers.
The revised local education administration law allows the education ministry to demand that local boards of education undertake corrective action when the education minister thinks that the boards are acting with negligence. This is yet another means to strengthen state control.
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