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Payment by results sparks opposition;Briefing;International

JAPAN

'Effective' teachers are to be given extra cash, reports Michael Fitzpatrick

Japanese state schools are set to introduce performance pay for the first time, despite opposition from teachers.

Under proposals made by the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education, "effective" teachers will be rewarded financially for their ability, enthusiasm and achievement following a personal assessment by their headteacher. The rating will take into account the opinions of senior teachers, parents and students and self-evaluations.

The Tokyo proposals, for an education authority covering a population of 27 million, will link evaluation to accelerated promotion or pay rises. Heads will award teachers an A, B or C grade based on their evaluation of teachers' performances. Teachers rated as especially able would be rewarded with extra pay.

Noboru Ura, secretary general of the Tokyo Metropolitan Teachers' Union, is against the changes. He said teachers would be forced to compete against each other, just as children have for a place at a good school. "I'm worried that it could undermine co-operative relations among teachers and weaken each school's individual educational strengths."

A panel reporting to the Tokyo board of education recommended that teachers should be rated by three criteria - ability, enthusiasm or attitude, and achievement. Characters and personality would not come under inspection. Principals would visit classes as part of the assessment, the report said.

The present teacher evaluation scheme, introduced in Tokyo in 1958, is seen merely as a formality and is largely ignored because unions strongly oppose it.

Some private schools already grade teachers, based on evaluations by students. Educationists say such a trend is growing, given the heightened competition for an ever-shrinking pool of students.

Education writer Shuichi Fujimori said the feedback from students does not influence teaching content because that is decided predominantly by the ministry of education. "In consequence, the teachers cannot perform their own initiatives," he says.

Tokyo's teachers may not accept such changes without protest. Last year more than 2,100 teachers from the Tokyo Metropolitan High School Teachers' Union staged a one-hour strike against the metropolitan government's decision to give more authority to headteachers. Present administration policies givepanels more authority than school principals.

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