Regarding the April 29 story “Abe open to delaying start of Japan's school year,” I agree there are merits to aligning the start of the school year with other countries, but a change in the start of the school year has wide-ranging impact on the entire society. Families and the private sector are stakeholders in this issue as much as students and schools. There are many aspects to be considered for such a major change, and trying to implement this in a short few months may not give enough time for the issues to be properly studied.
Six months ago, the education ministry already had to walk back a decision about using private sector English proficiency tests for university entrance exams. An issue with even greater impact on society needs to be studied in even greater detail if we are to avoid repeating history, or worse, walk blindly into a change without fully understanding, and mitigating, the impact.
The immediate issue at hand is the lack of a contingency plan when there are prolonged and widespread school closures. The education ministry should be looking at how to implement home-based learning as a contingency plan to handle widespread disruption to the school system. And this problem will not go away by shifting the school year to start in September. If a second wave of infections hit in autumn, we will still be faced with the same problem of school closures. What then? Do we shift the school year again to start in April?
Politicians should be focusing their time, effort and money on dealing with the issue at hand instead of trying to divert attention away from their inability to implement home-based learning. Any politician who speaks about shifting the school year to start in September needs to answer this question first: What happens if there is a second wave of infections in the autumn?
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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