Resolution to Seek Review of Educational Control and Competitive Principle-based Education in order to Respect Children's Dignity and Ensure their Rights to Study
Every child shall be respected as an individual, and it shall be ensured the rights to study in order to develop and bloom the child's personality and their talents to their fullest potential (Constitution, Article 13, 26, Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 6, 29-1)
These rights to study shall be guaranteed through education with human contact between teachers and children. Therefore, freedom of education shall be guaranteed for teachers based on their expertise in education. The Constitution respects the autonomy of education, and the Fundamental Act of Education prohibits undue control over education by the government and the public administration.
Nevertheless, education in Japan has reached a crossroads.
Teachers’ mental freedom has been restricted, autonomy of education has been impeded, and teachers have been deprived of their opportunity and time to properly engage with children and give them the necessary support, due to a strict control being promoted over teachers through tightening regulations related to thoughts and conscience, the introduction of performance evaluation and various investigations, and intervention in educational content by the government and the public administration.
In particular, in Tokyo, a ruling, which requires all public school teachers and other school staff members to stand when singing “Kimigayo” - Japan’s national anthem - at graduation and entrance ceremonies, has been issued; and disciplinary actions, such as warnings, salary cuts, and suspensions of employment, were taken against many teachers and staff members who had not stand.
In Osaka, a series of ordinances, such as the Basic Ordinance on Educational Administration and the Ordinance on Singing of the National Anthem have been enacted, and there are serious concerns about the infringement of autonomy in education by the government and the public administration, and management and control of teachers is about to be tightened even further. In Hokkaido, control over school teachers and other school staff has been tightened through interviews pertaining to the office regulations being imposed on all school teachers and other school staff, and establishing an information-gathering system from the public to school boards with regard to illegal action, political activities, non-compliance of curriculum guidelines, and so on.
Such intervention in education from the government and the public administration impedes mental freedom of teachers including autonomy of education and freedom of thought and conscience of teachers. It could also lead to constraints for freedom of thought and conscience of children, and it is concerned that it could impede the education based on free and enriching relationships between children and teachers. Thus, it is of great concern that this could lead to a serious problem for education in
Japan in the future.
In recent years, intervention in education to promote excessive competition among schools, teachers, and children has been under way through measures including introduction of the national academic achievement test and school choice system as well as the school consolidation. Children are differentiated according to academic evaluation which attaches too much emphasis on academic results, and many children suffer from a sense of failure and desolation. It is of concern that the excessively competitive principle-based education based on academic results, could hinder the overall development of children’s personalities and various abilities. It is reported that the economic background of children’s families affects children’s school results, and it is concerned that economic disparity could lead to an education disparity.
As the regulation on conditions for providing education has been loosened, it is concerned that the educational environment has deteriorated through measures such as a reduction of full-time teachers and it could widen the regional gap for children’s study environment. The government should put in place adequate conditions for providing education based on educational necessity, including a small class size and the standard for the quota of teachers through legislation considering that all children have rights to receive education at the level of necessary and adequate education conditions.
In addition, under the situation where it is concerned that the number of poor families is to increase and the economic disparities could lead to disparities in education, the necessary measures should be taken to secure children’s rights to receive necessary education substantially, regardless of their economic backgrounds.
Therefore, the JFBA strongly requests the government, local governments, and school boards, as follows:
1. The government, local governments, and education boards should observe various educational principles in their overall educational administration, including ensuring the right to study and rights to development of children, respecting freedom of education, prohibiting unreasonable control and intervention in education, as well as respecting rights to mental freedom including freedom of thought and conscience both for teachers and children, as set forth in the Constitution, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Fundamental Act of Education.
2. Local governments and education boards should not compel school teachers, other school staff, or children/students to stand facing the national flag and sing the national anthem, and impose or sanction unfair treatment of the person who fails to follow it.
3. The government, local governments, and education boards should examine and review as may be necessary the concept of school education including the national academic achievement test, school choice system, and the school consolidation, and public integrated schools (elementary school and junior high school, and junior high school and high school) so as to avoid that an excessively competitive environment would have a negative effect on the development of personalities and the fulfillment of rights to study of children.
4. The government should legislate establishing the national minimum standard setting forth developing criteria of conditions for education that is derived from educational necessity, in order to secure necessary and adequate rights to study to all children.
5. The government should take aggressive measures such as eliminating tuition fees at public schools (elementary school, junior high school, and high school) to secure rights to receive necessary and adequate education for all children, regardless of the children’s economic background.
We shall pass a resolution as stated above.
October 5, 2012
Japan Federation of Bar Associations