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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 February 28 - March 6  > Evening school teachers and students in Chiba call for maintaining school meals
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2018 February 28 - March 6 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Evening school teachers and students in Chiba call for maintaining school meals

March 2, 2018

The Chiba Prefectural Board of Education is facing mounting criticism in regard to its plan to stop providing school meals to evening high school students.

The education board announced the plan in November last year. Under the plan, at 17 public senior high schools with evening courses, the program which provides school meals to evening-class students will be terminated at the end of March 2018. As the reason for this measure, the education commission referred to its survey of evening-course students which indicated the increasing tendency among students to purchase evening meals at convenience stores and fast-food restaurants. The survey also showed that the percentage of those who use the school meal program is on a downturn.

A representative of a civil group working to block the termination of the program, Mio Keiji, who is also a night high school teacher, pointed out that the decline in the number of meal program users has mainly been caused by the termination of prefectural government subsidies for the program. This imposed on students a monthly charge of 6,000 yen for evening school meals. Mio said that for students who come to night schools under various circumstances, including economic difficulties, it is difficult to pay even 6,000 yen for school meals every month.

Mio noted that in a survey which his group conducted in October last year, 84% of students in night classes demanded the continuation of the school meal service. He said one way to increase the percentage of school meal recipients, reducing the cost of the meal service makes sense.

Mio pointed out that school meals play a role in providing balanced nutrition to students and that it is important for both students and teachers to be able to have a meal together in a classroom. Citing that evening schools accept foreign nationals, Mio said among such students, those who are not good at Japanese can improve their language ability by just chatting with Japanese classmates during evening meal times. As a teacher, he went on to say that teachers also can find out a lot about students from having casual conversations with them.

The civil group in January submitted to the prefectural education board a petition demanding the cancellation of the plan.

Japanese Communist Party member of the Chiba Prefectural Assembly Okada Sachiko stressed, “The prefectural government has enough finances to cover the budget of 100 million yen to maintain the evening meal program,” criticizing the education commission for pushing ahead with the intent to scrap the program.
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