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The Education Resuscitation Council, which was set up under the leadership of then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, has submitted its third report to Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda. The report includes a variety of proposals for consideration: a grade-skipping system, government guidelines for school integration, management reform at national universities and other schools, more use of English in university classes, ways to improve the quality of graduate school students, etc. But the report does not present a general direction and the proposals lack coherence.

Reflecting the wishes of Mr. Abe, the council proposed making moral education a specific subject to be taught. It proposes making a textbook that “moves” the hearts of children with biographies of great people, classical literature, stories, etc. Behind the council members’ thinking is the belief that making moral education a subject will help enhance children’s sense of morality. But there are problems with this approach.

If moral education becomes a subject, the values upheld by the state will be imposed on children through the screening process for school textbooks. What is good and what is beautiful are things that each individual must continue to think about throughout his or her life, and the state must refrain from instilling certain values in children. Rather than impose such textbooks on students, it would be better if adults and educators made efforts to provide children with real-life opportunities for dealing with different people and situations so that children can develop their own values and thinking.

The council also proposed that a special teaching-license system be utlized and that more than 20 percent of new teaching recruits be recruited from citizens without ordinary teaching licenses. It is hard to understand how this proposal fits the council’s pet idea of improving the quality of teachers by having them renew their licenses every 10 years. Instead of putting forward incoherent proposals, the council should concentrate on increasing the education budget so that every student receives an adequate education opportunity.

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