Teachers, parents, farmers discuss crisis of education

A forum to discuss the crisis of education was held on March 31 in Tokyo to help build broader cooperation to solve the crisis as a national task.

The discussion was organized by the six organizations: the New Japan Women's Association (NJWA), the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren), the National Federation of Farmers Movement (Nominren), the Tokyo Metropolitan Teachers Union, the National Federation of Traders and Producers Organizations (Zenshoren), and the All Japan Teachers and Staff's Union (Zenkyo).

Zenkyo President Yamaguchi Mitsuaki in his speech on behalf of the organizers said that education not only concerns individual children but has a decisive bearing on the future of the country and the nation. He emphasized the need for national joint efforts to solve problems and ensure children's growth and development in school, at home, and in local communities as well as through cultural and economic activities.

Fudesaka Hideyo, Japanese Communist Party Policy Commission chair, made a special report on the political and economic situation and JCP educational policy. He said that since the JCP 22nd Congress called for a national discussion of children and problems of education, it has become clearer that many local government heads and academics have deepened their concern about the new "Course of Study" which the Education Ministry plans to introduce in 2002 and declining children's academic standards.

An NJWA representative from Kanagawa Prefecture reported that they attracted a total of 15,000 people to a film based on a true story of a boy who couldn't go to school for several years due to bullying and other reasons. The film presentation was held in 28 locations. The film presentation helped NJWA expand circles of mothers helping each other in their child rearing.

An elementary school teacher in Tokyo said that the "educational reform" advocated by the business circles and the new "Course of Study" will only widen the gap in academic standards between children and strengthen control over teachers.

Nominren President Sasaki Kenzo spoke about his experience of looking after a child, who caused troubles in his junior high school. He taught him farmwork. The child was uncontrollable in school, but was a reliable hand on Sasaki's farm. The boy's farmwork experience gave a lot of positive influence on him, said Sasaki.

Matsumura Tadaomi, Zenkyo secretary general, said that since the 1990s, education has become more and more competitive- and control-oriented and Zenkyo has made joint efforts with parents to make school the place that centers on children. He appealed to the participants, "Let's open the 21st century with education based on the Constitution, the Fundamental Law on Education, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child." (end)