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2014 September 3 - 9 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

editorial  Education boards should not intervene in teachers’ selection of textbooks

September 5, 2014
Akahata editorial (excerpt)

It has come to light that in some prefectures, local education boards are discouraging public high schools and teachers from using a particular textbook in class.

Textbooks used in Japanese public schools are selected by teachers from those which passed the state screening process in accordance with their school curriculum. Local education boards then approve the selection.

In Tokyo, Osaka, and Kanagawa prefectures, prefectural education commissions issued statements and instructions with the aim to prevent high school teachers from using a Japanese history textbook published by Jikkyo Shuppan Co., Ltd.

As the reason for this, they pointed out that Jikkyo’s textbook included descriptions that some municipalities are forcing their public school teachers to stand facing the Hinomaru flag and sing the Kimigayo (Reign of Your Majesty) song at school events.

The textbook, however, passed the screening of the education ministry. It is an infringement on the freedom of education to exclude a state-approved textbook from the list of choices.

In most countries, it is the norm of teachers and individual schools to have the right to choose the textbooks they use. The 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers states, “Since teachers are particularly qualified to judge the teaching aids and methods most suitable for their pupils, they should be given the essential role in the choice and the adaptation of teaching material, the selection of textbooks.” Education boards should stop interfering with the selection of textbooks and trust in the professional integrity behind teachers’ decisions.

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