Tokyo parents offered choice of primaries;International News;News amp; Opinion

3rd December 1999 at 00:00
JAPAN

IN ANOTHER step down Japan's road to education reform, a Tokyo borough is to allow parents to choose where to send their children to primary school.

The Government has permitted education authorities to depart from the practice of admitting children only to the nearest primary or secondary school. The change will apply from April. It will be up to each local authority to decide whether or not to offer a choice.

Kazuo Kawatani, secretary general of the National Council of Prefecture Boards of Education, said he expects more towns and cities to follow suit.

In Shinagawa ward in central Tokyo, the 40 state primary schools will be divided into four districts consisting of eight to 12 schools. "Schools will be selling themselves on their strengths," said the ministry. "There will be no standardisation and there are no national league tables planned."

At open days, for the first time, parents from beyond the usual catchment areas could examine each school's records and even quiz headteachers. Until recently, schools and teachers, particularly heads, were seen as beyond reproach.

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