The government has basically settled on a plan that aims to have junior high night schools established in every prefecture by fiscal 2022, to create an environment that will enable an expected influx of foreign workers and their families to better assimilate into Japanese society.
Currently, only a total of 31 such schools operate in eight prefectures, so the government plans to bolster budgetary support for local governments to push forward the project, which is intended to broaden the educational opportunities for foreign workers. Japan will accept more such workers from April.
Junior high night schools, which are for people aged 15 and older who did not complete their compulsory education, offer classes at public junior high schools from about 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Launched in 1947, these schools were initially for students and others who had to work to make a living. The classes teach the same content as that offered through the compulsory education curriculum taught at regular junior high schools, and the students also take part in school excursions and sports days.
According to the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry, eight such schools operated in the Tokyo metropolitan area as of January, and a combined 23 were in the seven prefectures of Chiba, Kanagawa, Nara, Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo and Hiroshima. A junior high night school is scheduled to open in Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture, and another in Kawaguchi, Saitama Prefecture, in April.
Local governments establish such schools based on an ordinance for enforcement of the School Education Law. The government has encouraged the establishment of junior high night schools, but some local governments have been reluctant to launch them due to budgetary concerns. However, foreign workers with special expertise who possess a new Category 2 residence status are entitled to bring family members to Japan, so the number of foreigners wanting to attend classes at these night schools is expected to increase.
The government wants every prefecture to have at least one such school. To achieve this, it has set a target date and decided it needs to provide additional financial support to local governments. About ¥46 million was earmarked for this in the draft fiscal 2019 budget, an increase of ¥10 million from the previous year. The government is also considering boosting the support offered to foreign students by stationing Japanese-language education assistants at these schools.
According to a 2017 survey conducted by the education ministry, 1,687 people were studying at junior high night schools across Japan. Of them, 1,356 — about 80 percent — were foreigners. The majority of these non-Japanese students were from Asia, especially nations including China, Nepal, the Korean Peninsula and Vietnam.
The government estimates it will accept a maximum of 345,150 foreign workers over the five years from fiscal 2019.Speech