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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 February 13 - 19  > JCP demands withdrawal of plan for revised curriculum guideline
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2008 February 13 - 19 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

JCP demands withdrawal of plan for revised curriculum guideline

February 16, 2008
The Japanese Communist Party on February 15 published a statement by Ishii Ikuko, head of the education panel of the Japanese Communist Party Dietmembers Group, concerning a draft of the Education Ministry’s revised official curriculum guideline that sets the standards of both elementary and junior high school curricula. The revision will be the first in 10 years. The following is the gist of Ishii’s statement:

The proposed curriculum guideline is based on the Fundamental Law of Education that was adversely revised in 2006 and the School Education Law that was adversely revised in 2007, and does not meet public expectations. The Ministry should withdraw the draft and call for a nationwide discussion.

Pressured by the government and the business sector emphasizing the need to cram more knowledge into children, the revision calls for a heavier school course load. It also gives details of the course of study for every subject. This is the worst way of controlling teachers in that it contravenes the Constitution and prevents teachers from exercising independent and creative judgment. It will also increase the number of children who are unable to keep up with the required scholastic standards. It is clear that such an approach will only help to widen the gap in academic achievement among children due to the Ministry’s competitive policy that includes the nationwide achievement test and proficiency-dependent teaching.

The need is to confine the official curriculum guideline to suggesting items that are considered essential for children’s education.

The draft calls for every school to assign particular teachers to the promotion of “moral education” to check whether homeroom teachers are teaching properly in accordance with the curriculum guideline and teaching morals in all subjects.

The moral education called for in the draft curriculum guideline has a high degree of formality and an emphasis on conformity. It is not one of protecting basic human rights or the rights of the child.

In carrying out moral education, it is necessary for schools to establish their basic stance of respecting children’s human dignity.

The draft calls for foreign languages be taught in elementary school, but it only forces homeroom teachers to teach English even though no adequate conditions supporting teachers are in place. What’s more, there is no national consensus on the need to teach English to elementary school pupils. The proposal for making martial arts required subjects in junior high school poses a danger of their being used for the indoctrination of aggressive values.

The Education Ministry insists that the draft puts emphasis not only on basic knowledge but also its application in conformity with OECD and other international currents.

The academic standards set by the OECD include efforts to turn children into adults capable of contributing to reducing social inequalities unlike the Japanese Education Ministry plan to educate children who will contribute to Japan’s advance in international competition. There is a danger that basic scholastic abilities are mechanically separated from their application. This can lead to further declines in the quality of learning.
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