State control feared

13th February 2004 at 00:00
Teachers' independence from government ideological influences is about to be watered down sparking fears that the moral values of teachers and children will be subject to state control.

Prime minister Junichiro Koizumi's advisory body has proposed a revision to the country's fundamental education law, so that concepts such as "love of one's country" and "respect for Japanese tradition" would be written into it as key objectives for schools. These changes could be enforced later this year.

The education ministry blames the change on the individualism and egalitarianism of post-war schooling for teenage delinquency, classroom breakdown and a decline in academic achievements. Teachers and citizens'

groups are lobbying hard to block the government's move.

"This is an infringement of civil liberty," said Akio Furuyama, an educationist and researcher.

"The government has no right to enter the minds of people," said Takashi Ota, chair of the citizens' group for children's protection.

"What the government is trying to do is contrary to the spirit of this law," said Tetsuya Takahashi, a professor at Tokyo university. He said the law was enacted after the Second World War to draw a line under the imperial edict which taught children to give up their life for the emperor in national emergencies.

It laid the foundation for education that respects the individual and redefines the state's role as an entity that serves its people. "The revision is an attempt to stand the law on its head," he said.

Already old nationalistic ideals such as "love of home town" and "respect for teachers" have crept into the primary curriculum under the heading of ethics.

In 1999, the government made it compulsory for state schools to display the Japanese flag at biannual events and for teachers to sing the national anthem. The Tokyo educational authority has warned teachers they will be dismissed if they do not obey.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now