Regarding the story “Fukuoka ‘guest teachers’ outstay their welcome” in the July 5 edition, the vicious cycle of outsourcing teaching jobs ultimately leads to everyone losing except the companies that win government bids. The teachers have poor job security while their students will be taught by ever worsening staff as the companies bidding lower their estimates to the employing government body while maintaining their own two-thirds plus profit margin.

In Japan it seems that testing dictates teaching. And now that the education ministry has committed to imposing spoken exams on college candidates, all the companies concerned have upped their prices overnight.

The cost of a single spoken exam can exceed the entire cost of all the subjects tested in the National Center Test for University Admissions. Candidates are advised to take two of them, doubling this. On top of this, there are few or no spoken exam facilities in many areas of Japan.

It’s no wonder that the likes of Todai have already rejected the education ministry’s determination to outsource spoken testing. Then there is the small matter of such tests’ reliability, validity and authenticity. Instead of one-off spoken testing, the government should invest directly in better teachers and pedagogy by taking responsibility for hiring teachers who can successfully teach speaking in classes without having to use all-or-nothing exams concocted by for-profit companies.


The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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