教育総研は、教育・文化や教育運動のあり方について幅広い研究を積み重ね、同時に学校現場の課題を意識しながら、今日的視点にたった政策提言を行っています。

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October 27, 2008

   
2002 Report Summary: Committee on Multi-Cultural and Inclusive Education

The number of registered foreign residents in Japan was about 1.8 million in December 2001. Since 1992, the number of temporary residents have been exceeding that of permanent foreign residents, and also the "new-comer" foreigners are on the increase. It is expected that Japan will increasingly be a multiracial state, given that the number becomes even larger if it includes Japanese who have foreign roots or have a non-Japanese person as a parent and unregistered foreign residents.

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which Japan ratified in 1979, and Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Japan ratified in 1994, both ensure the rights to education as "the rights for all children" while they also orient toward the multi-cultural and inclusive education. They ensure the rights to ethnic education in which minorities' rights to preserve their cultural identities and to use their first languages are respected.

In spite of all these facts, Japanese educational administration policies and laws still remain defining education as "the development of the Japanese nation."

School Education Law of Japan obliges Japanese parents to have their children receive compulsory edcation while it does not create such an obligation for the parents of foreign nationalities. Although they can enroll schools if they wish, there are a large number of new-comer children who are out of schools. It is not sufficient at all to send their homes a pamphlet as a follow-up to those out-of-school children. Meanwhile, it is also hard to say that the actual educational practices in schools currently embrace the philosophy of multicultural, inclusive education. As there are increasing number of Brazilian schools, the number of children who do not choose to attend a Japanese school is not small. Such a situation reveals not only the problem of Japanese language education at schools but also various other issues that Japanese schools face, including a lack of ensurement of the students' first language; lack of strong committment toward the multicultural, inclusive education; and a tendency to exclude "different others."

This research reports the results of survey as well as implications and discussions on how we can ensure the educational rights of ethnically minority students and on what multicultural and inclusive education may mean in practice. Table of contents of this report is as follows:

I. What is "multicultural and inclusive education"? - What the school education faces
II. To ensure the children's rights to attend schools
III. What is "the problem of Japanese language"? - In relation to learning, the first language, and identity
IV. Their life styles and the Japanese society (Cases of returned Japanese from China)
V. How to mobilize community resources
VI. Education that Korean residents want
VII. Seeing Japan from the problem of multilanguage education
VIII. Multicultural education and the ensurement of access to continued educational career and higher education
IX. Recommendations for multicultural and inclusive education (21 items)
 
  1. Local governments shall create "Educational policies for foreign residents and students who have multiethnic backgrounds" based on a spirit of equality and of respecting cultural diversity. Ensure to fully reflect the views of the foreign residents and those who have multiethnic backgrounds themselves, as well as those of teachers and other school staff, parents/guardians, and NGOs.

  2. So-called "international schools" and "ethnic schools" have long contributed to the cultural richness of Japanese society by practicing multicultural education. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) shall not discriminate those schools and treat them equally as if they were schools defined under the article 1 of the School Education Law as much as possible.

  3. Encourage interactions between Japanese schools and international/ethnic schools and enable them to conduct classes and after-school activities jointly together in order to promote mutual understandings and to reduce discriminations and prejudices.

  4. Change laws and policies so the purpose of primary and secondary education is defined not as "the education of the Japanese nation" but as "the education of the citizens." Keep and strengthen the current Fundamental Law of Education in such a direction.

  5. Aiming toward the "education of the citizens" (and ultimately "the education of the global citizens"), the governmental curriculum guidelines shall be fundamentally reformed to include contents that value and teach about the culture and knowledge relevant to the students who have multicultural nationalities and/or backgrounds.

  6. Challenge the mono-cultural "communitariansm" dominant in current Japanese schools, and promote to respect the cultural diversity (e.g., traditions related to piercing, food, religion) and to diversify curriculum as well as the standards to assess academic competence of students. Try to develop multicultural textbooks collaboratively with the educators of other Asian countries and South American countries.

  7. Recognize that the first language is important to the identity of foreign students, and provide the opportunities to learn in or about their first languages if they desire (Use the time after school or weekends). It is desirable to employ educators as the teachers of such classes who share the same ethnic or cultural backgrounds with the students.

  8. The MEXT and the boards of education shall give due recognitions as well as financial supports to the ethnic classes and the ethnic teachers who teach foreign students with permanent residency. Develop a network of foreign teachers and promote the exchange of information and teaching practices.

  9. Create a teacher certificate for teaching Japanese and enable schools (especially junior high schools) to employ teachers who are specialized in this area.

  10. Reconsider the academic subject of "foreign language" taught at junior high schools, which currently teaches only English, so the students will be able to choose from and learn various languages, such as Chinese, Korean, Spanish, and Portuguese. Make it so those various languages can become the options for the highschool entrance examinations.

  11. Enable new-comer students to learn Japanese without having to be taken out of a regular class for "pull-out" Japanese classes. For that, incorporate billingual education in regular classes or Team Teaching approach so that multiple teachers are present and teach in the class.

  12. In Japanese schoool education, the values of "working hard" and "making good efforts" have traditionally been emphasized to the point of excluding students who were deemed non-hard-workers or not making enough efforts. Often time foreign students become the victims of such value system. Challenge such an ideology and support those students who are seemingly unable to work hard by understanding the potential background factors of students' performance.

  13. When foreign students enroll schools at halfway of the program (i.e., not from the first grade of the school), consider the student's class assignment not strictly based only on the age but rather by taking considerations of the student's academic performance and parents' wishes. For example, consider allowing the student to enroll in a grade that is above her/his age. In addition, as the students who are over the age 15 certainly have the rights to education, accept them into regular junior high schools if they desire.

  14. Boards of Education should follow up individually to make sure that foreign students have properly enrolled schools, rather than leave it up to the foreign parents after they send homes mere notice of school enrollment.

  15. Establish a position, which can be called "school social worker," in the Board of Education who shall follow up families to ensure the enrollment of foreign students by consulting and supporting the parents/guardians.

  16. Due to the current policy that limits the number of teachers to be hired for international classes to be up to two, there are schools in which more than 50 students enroll who need help with Japanese yet deploy only two teachers for such students. Abolish the upper limit and allow schools to employ teachers for international classes based on the need of the students.

  17. Increase the hire rate of foreign teachers at public elementary and junior high schools (Be sure not to be euro-centric and hire teachers of diverse countries especially from Asian countries) to 1%. In addition, abolish the discriminatory promotion policy that limits promotional opportunities of foreign teachers with "the ceiling level of permanent lecturer." This will allow Japanese students to learn and to gain diverse perspectives and the sense of diversity through their daily lives.

  18. Promote learning that enhances global understandings and that emphasizes human rights in school education as well as in social education in order to nurture respect, within both students and parents in Japan, toward the language, religion, life styles, and value system, seeing them as "cultures" of social minorities such as foreigners, those with different ethnic origins, women, people with disabilty, and elderly people.

  19. Ensure the foreign students' rights to access high schools by achieving "zero rejection," enabling all students who wish to enter a high school to be accepted. Regarding the entrance examination, establish a "special category" at all public high schools for foreign students. In addition, extend the eligiblity for such special category from "within three years of arrival to Japan" to at least five years, and take othe various factors into consideration as well.

  20. All children have the rights to education, and whether their parents or themselves hold informal status to stay in Japan or not must not interfer such rights. Upon processing applications to school enrollment, the Boards of Education should not force students and families to present their forigner registration ID cards. Rather, they should request only necessary items in unintrusive ways.

  21. In some communities, volunteers built learning centers to offer foreign students and their families support to school enrollment, after-school learning opportunities, and mentoring on taking school entrance examinations, some of which have proved to play an important role. Boards of Educatino and schools should collaborate with such volunteer-based learning centers in communities to support minority students and families. Local governments should also provide the learning centers with support such as to offer a place to build a learning center.
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