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HOME  > Past issues  > 2012 March 7 - 13  > Osaka’s education ordinance imposes control and competition (Part 3)
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2012 March 7 - 13 [EDUCATION]

Osaka’s education ordinance imposes control and competition (Part 3)

March 4, 2012
The Osaka fundamental education ordinance bill has an ulterior aim: to turn teachers into robots who move automatically at the beck and call of their superiors.

This aim is clearly illustrated in the bill’s extraordinary penal article which stipulates that teachers who disregard an official order three times shall be dismissed.

This dismissal clause, however, is illegal in itself.

The most likely use of this clause is when teachers disobey the order to sing “Kimigayo” (Reign of Your Majesty) at entrance and other school ceremonies. In January, the Supreme Court ruled that excessive punishment for not singing “Kimigayo” is an abuse of power.

How to deal with “Kimigayo” and the “Hinomaru” (Rising Sun) flag at ceremonies should be left to schools to decide. If the school decides on standing up and singing the song in unison, only those willing shall be obliged to sing, sparing those unwilling from singing. This is the democratic way for schools to proceed.

Compulsory control in education in Japan stands out in the world. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that any state that attempts to force children at public schools to pledge allegiance to the national flag would be in violation of the Constitution of the United States.

The point of concern is that the Osaka education ordinance bill which allows for dismissals for offenses is not an issue limited just to the teachers. When the teachers are controlled under the threat of punishment, the whole school will become like a robot, with no one free to think on their own.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) regard the status of teachers as education specialists.

As specialists, teachers must think on their own and decide how best to teach children. Teachers with independence of mind and freedom of expression can convey the importance of critical thinking to children.

The Osaka education ordinance bill is based on the principles of authoritative control, test-based competition, and ruling class order.

Overcoming this impasse is possible only by working together with children, parents, teachers, and local residents and going back to the basics of postwar educational principles: education to be provided in the best interest of students with the government refraining from controlling education.

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