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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 June 17 - 23  > Shii and teachers’ union agree on need to reduce class sizes at public schools as part of anti-corona efforts
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2020 June 17 - 23 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Shii and teachers’ union agree on need to reduce class sizes at public schools as part of anti-corona efforts

June 20, 2020

Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo on June 19 held talks with All Japan Teachers and Staffs Union (Zenkyo) President Obata Masako in the Diet building, and agreed on the need to decrease school class sizes as an important measure to enhance children’s safety during the coronavirus pandemic.

The meeting was attended also by JCP Dietmembers Hatano Kimie (Lower House) and Kira Yoshiko (Upper House) as well as by Zenkyo officers.

In the meeting, Shii said that when he discussed measures to be taken after the three-month-long school closure at a House of Representatives Budget Committee meeting on June 10, he proposed the reduction of class sizes in order to ensure that teachers can provide learning support and mental care to students as well as to practice social distancing. Noting that Prime Minister Abe Shinzo gave a positive response to Shii’s proposal, Shii said, “This is a step forward. Zenkyo’s long-time movement on the smaller class issue has contributed to this step in the right direction.” He expressed his intent to further promote the public movement to achieve smaller class sizes.

Obata said, “With the increase in public awareness and citizens’ movements, we will work to realize a small class size standard.”

Describing situations in class rooms after the reopening of schools, a Zenkyo officer said that while enjoying meeting their friends again, children are struggling to adapt to a new life style, long class hours, and the associated severe stress. Another officer said that teachers are now very busy maintaining hygiene and monitoring children’s temperatures in addition to giving lessons. This officer pointed out that at a school which temporarily decreased class size to 20 students as an emergency measure to ensure social distancing, teachers reported that they can better serve the needs of students and that they think a 20-student-size class is appropriate.

Shii said, “The introduction of small-sized classes is an urgent task amid the coronavirus crisis. The second supplementary budget has a reserve fund of 10 trillion yen. It is necessary to use one trillion yen from the reserve fund to hire an additional 100,000 teachers in order to decrease the class size to around 20 students. We need to realize this by launching an emergency national movement.” Obata replied, “We will push the government to increase the number of teachers immediately and realize small classes in near future.”

Past related articles:
> Shii in discussion on 2nd supplementary budget calls for increasing preparedness for renewed surge in COVID-19 cases [June 11, 2020]
> JCP issues urgent proposal on reopening of schools [June 3, 2020]
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