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HOME  > Past issues  > 2014 October 8 - 14  > PM Abe’s inconsistent policy on child poverty
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2014 October 8 - 14 [WELFARE]

PM Abe’s inconsistent policy on child poverty

October 13, 2014
The Abe government is planning to halve its subsidies for learning support to children in families on welfare, while adopting a policy outline to address child poverty problems in August.

Children in families living on welfare assistance are usually deprived of a good learning environment at home and are likely to start missing school when they feel that they are falling behind in their studies. The percentage of welfare recipients’ children who go to senior high schools is 90.8%, eight percentage points lower than that of children in other households.

However, the situation can be changed if proper learning support is provided. Saitama Prefecture, for example, has successfully raised the percentage rate to 97% from 89.9% after implementing study support measures.

In FY 2013, 130 local governments at the prefectural and municipal levels conducted a project to provide learning support for children in poor households with 100% financial support from the central government. The Saitama Prefectural government is one of the 130 local governments involved in the project. Using the state subsidies, it contracted a private organization to conduct the study support project in which junior high school students in families on welfare can receive help with their schoolwork from former teachers and university students who are registered with the organization.

The welfare ministry recently announced a plan to increase the number of local governments conducting the project to 180 in FY 2015. The ministry, however, showed reluctance to enlarge its budget for subsidizing local governments, meaning the state subsidies for the projects will be halved.

Pointing out that 39 cities in Saitama Prefecture already decided to begin their own projects in FY 2015, Governor Ueda Kiyoshi in May at a meeting of the National Governors’ Association demanded that the national government maintain full financial support for local governments’ learning support projects. The governors’ association unanimously adopted a statement in favor of Ueda’s demand.

PM Abe’s policy outline for tackling child poverty proposed implementing various measures, such as the learning support project, in order to prevent children from giving up on their futures due to being trapped in the cycle of poverty. Cuts in subsidies for local governments’ learning support projects contradict this policy paper.
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