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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 March 20 - 26  > JCP Yamashita demands creation of national standards for disabled children’s schools
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2019 March 20 - 26 [POLITICS]

JCP Yamashita demands creation of national standards for disabled children’s schools

March 26, 2019

Japanese Communist Party parliamentarian Yamashita Yoshiki on March 25 at a House of Councilors Budget Committee meeting said that the government should set national standards for disabled children’s schools like as it does for schools in general.

Yamashita stressed that special needs schools are essential for children with disabilities to learn and develop their abilities. However, he said, an increase in the number of these schools lags far behind the increase in students, resulting in a serious shortage of classrooms and an infringement of children’s right to learn.

Between 2000 and 2018, the number of students with special needs grew by 1.6 times from 90,000 to 140,000. During the same period, the number of schools to meet their needs went up by only 1.15 times from 992 to 1,141.

Yamashita said that one of these struggling schools decided to use its music classroom as the substitute for an ordinary classroom and that as a result, students there now have to take music classes in non-soundproof rooms and are not allowed to sing or play instruments at normal volume. He went on to say that another school had to do away with its library and had to place book shelves in school corridors. Yamashita also said that many schools divided classrooms in half with a curtain to make two classrooms. He noted that kids in such a classroom are sometimes startled after hearing a large noise coming from the other side of the curtain.

Yamashita pointed out that special needs schools are forced to employ such desperate measures to deal with the classroom shortage because there are no uniform standards for these schools, unlike all the other types of schools ranging from preschools to universities. He proposed to have national standards set for special needs schools that specify minimum sizes of school buildings and playgrounds as well as a list of necessary facilities, such as a music classroom and a library.

Education Minister Shibayama Masahiko, while acknowledging the classroom shortage, turned down Yamashita’s proposal by saying that special needs schools have a wide variety of students and that a uniform standard is inappropriate without providing sufficient reasons. He just said that local governments and schools are positioned to handle the issue, shifting the ministry’s responsibility to them.

Yamashita said that in order to guarantee children’s right to learn, the government should establish minimum standards for special needs schools and allocate funds to build more schools and renovate existing schools.

Past related articles:
> Overcrowded schools undermine disabled children’s right to learn [August 22, 2018]
> Teachers strive to defend disabled children’s right to learn [January 18, 2013]
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