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Interview with Mr. Momoi, Principal of Renaissance Academy, an participant in the meeting of the Working Group on the National Strategic Special Zones on Sep 9.

※This is reprinted by the Tokyo Press Club

-What did you propose?

We suggested an establishment of “publicly-owned, privately-managed” schools which the government delegates management of public schools to the private entities.

I think Japan’s education since Meiji era had played a great role in raising the youths to achieve the country’s modernization and to catch up with the western civilization. However, Japan’s successful modern education has had aspects of uniformity, minus-point scoring and dis-originality, especially in public schools, which might be weakening the country’s international competitiveness in the globalized world today.

By outsourcing part of the public school management to the private entities, perhaps, the education world will be stimulated and more diversified, vital education will be available; I suggested the “publicly-owned, privately-managed” schools from such a viewpoint.

I proposed the following 5 types of schools in proposing the idea.

①      Global Schools (e.g., International Baccalaureat. Schools to train global elites)
②      Science Schools (schools to train creative youths especially in the natural sciences)
③      Agribusiness Schools (schools to train youths promoting agriculture as export industry)
④      Venture Schools (schools to train spontaneous business elites and entrepreneurs)
⑤      Hybrid Schools (schools that undertakes knowledge study through internet and character-building face to face. Diverse ways of education will be enabled.)

To realize such diverse types above, I suggested the following deregulatory measures.

1.       Outsourcing of public school management to private entities s need amendments to the School Education Law.
2.       School curriculum not restricted by the government guidelines s need amendments to the School Education Law and its bylaws.
3.       Free selection of textbooks (not necessarily the authorized textbooks) s need amendments to the School Education Law.
4.       Specialists such as businessman and engineers teach with official teaching licenses s need amendments to the Teaching License Law.

The suggestions above can be summarized as a “liberalization of contents of education”.
While the goals of the government guideline in each subject are highly sympathetic, the educational contents are just all-inclusive assuming that the teachers cover them all.

For the authorized textbooks are just the itemizations of the guideline, teachers would have little freedom to do educations in the ways suggested above as long as they use the authorized textbooks.

While there is an institution called exceptional measures for school curriculum, it is still largely premised on the government guideline and the exceptions are limited to “minor” ones like teaching in English.

And more, while it seems that those who have experiences in the real society are apt for teaching at schools today, the current teaching-license system is not the way such experienced persons would have motivations to become teachers.

There have been only 413 cases who acquired the special teaching license in the last 20 years.

Also, as for the special part-time lecturers system utilized 200,000 cases a year, it requires annual applications and some prefectures do not even adopt the institution even though there are the needs from schools at site.

For the lecturers, also, it is uneasy to apply for the system because it is just a part-time job and with unofficial teaching license.

-How did you feel about the hearing of the Working Group?

The members were very favorable. I think the members understood the urgency of diversifying the education by the “publicly-owned privately-managed” schools, and it seemed that the members realized the need for reforming the existing reforms.

One member asked whether we could handle all the 5 types suggested. I answered that while we are capable, as it is hard to do them all at once, the fifth “hybrid schools” were most desirable for the moment. Because we have correspondence courses in which 3,500 students are learning.

On liberalization of education, some member showed an anxiety that the education might be biased and students would become victims once it is liberalized. However, it seems to me an apprehension because the schools are still publicly-owned and there are the municipal checks and controls beforehand and afterward. Also there is an option to introduce a third-party evaluation system or census survey to students and guardians (second-party evaluation) if needed.

There was no opposition to my proposition today, and I think the hearing was a great step toward realization of the idea. If there are anybody from local governments interested in our proposal this time, please contact us. We’ll visit anywhere to explain the idea to realize the “publicly-owned, privately-managed” schools together.

Thank you.

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