WHITE PAPER ON YOUTH 2005 -- Part 2 Administrative Policies on Youths
Chapter 2 Policies by Age Group
Section 1 Infancy
(Ensuring and promoting the health of mother and child)
- Concerning support for pregnant women and nursing mothers by maintaining good health through quality foods, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare established a "meeting for studying measures for assisting pregnant women and nursing mothers by maintaining good health through quality foods" in February 2005 and has commenced studies since April 2005.
(Improving child-raising support)
- One of the prioritized goals in the Child-Care Support Plan (established in late December 2004) is to allow all the children on a waiting list to enroll in a day nursery. Specifically, it is planned that a 3-year intensive measure will be introduced starting from fiscal 2005 especially in those municipalities which have more than 50 children on a waiting list, aiming to create "no waiting" status by the end of fiscal 2007.
- It is also planned to increase community-based childrearing support centers, including so-called "Tsudoi no hiroba (place for gathering)" which was launched in fiscal 2002. The goal is to have 6,000 centers nationwide by the end of fiscal 2009.
(Improving the quality of nursing and education in nursery schools and kindergartens)
- Paired with the enhancement of coordination between nursery schools and kindergartens, basic principles were compiled within fiscal 2004 on the establishment of consistent comprehensive facilities that integrate childcare and education for children before elementary school. A joint conference between the subcommittee of preschool education of the Central Council for Education and the subcommittee of children of the Social Security Council finalized their plan at the end of 2004. Various preparations will be made to bring forward the implementation of pilot projects in fiscal 2005, aiming for a full-fledged implementation within fiscal 2006.
Section 2 Elementary School Age
(Securing and promoting health)
- Health education in schools will be improved by gaining the cooperation of experts, such as providing guidance on mental health, drug abuse prevention education, sex education according to the development stage, measures against infectious diseases, appropriate measures for environmental hygiene, safety education, and guidance on diet. Starting in April 2005, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) has been introducing diet and nutrition teacher system for the purpose of improving food education for children at school and also started working on the improvement of consultation services for school children and their parents by placing school counselors and advisors to work with children and parents for prevention of misbehaviors truancy and other problems and for early detection of any of those problems.
(Developing abilities for daily life)
- A youth support program focusing on after-school activities has been introduced mainly in metropolitan areas. This program intends to increase support facilities to 17,500 sites nationwide by the end of fiscal 2009, in accordance with the said Child-Care Support Plan
- In an effort to foster ethical attitudes in children, MEXT has been implementing measures for improving moral education by utilizing teaching materials such as a textbook on ethics (called "Kokoro-no-noto"), and plans to work on further improvement of such materials in fiscal 2005. The National Police Agency has been promoting juvenile delinquency prevention by having a juvenile delinquency prevention class, where Police officers and the Agency's volunteers are invited as lecturers.
"Examples of reports on programs such as juvenile delinquency prevention classes" was drawn up jointly by MEXT and the National Police Agency, and released to the public in January 2005.
- In an effort to ensure swift and accurate comprehension of any and all suspicious events possibly developing into a crime, police instruct local communities, parents/guardians, boards of education and schools to take immediate action against any dubious persons or occurrences including strangers trying to solicit children, stalkers, perverts, etc. by reporting to the police or using police-operated consultation services. Police personnel advise and instruct parents, guardians and schools about crime prevention education, situations that may occur and crime prevention measures.
As of April 2005, a total of 395 emergency report transmitters designed for juvenile users have been installed on streets around elementary schools and parks in 59 districts nationwide, which enable children to report any emergency directly to the police.
(Developing academic abilities)
- According to the survey results released to the public in April 2005 on school curricula of elementary, junior high and senior high schools, the overall declining trend of children's academic ability seems to have somewhat stopped, judging from the results, there are more problems with its accuracy rate exceeding the previous survey than problems with the rate lower than last time (when focusing on the same questions in both surveys). However, we still observe some problems including inferior performances in Japanese language description skill or in math at junior high schools as well as a lack of a positive attitude toward learning or learning habits among children, just as pointed out by an international survey of children's academic ability (released in December 2004).
MEXT has been promoting various reform programs of teaching method, Courses of Study, etc., taking into consideration the said survey results.
(Ensuring opportunities for activities that lead to accomplishment of social independence)
- Since fiscal 2004, MEXT has been supporting various after-school/weekend activities conducted at elementary or junior high schools nationwide, in cooperation with local communities, to increase learning opportunities for children through trial programs or exchanges with various people
- The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) continues to promote programs to increase opportunities for children to study agriculture and farm life. Starting from fiscal 2005, MAFF has been assisting local communities in establishing nationwide networks to facilitate operation of learning programs about agriculture and farm life.
- The Forestry Agency supports programs to promote educational activities about the forest environment. In addition, the Agency started in fiscal 2004 to assist various model projects that contribute to youth education on forestry and forests or human resources development. Such projects include exchange programs designed for young people to learn forestry by actually staying at a mountain village. Here, the planning skills and expertise of NPOs are being utilized.
Section 3 Adolescence
(Securing and promoting health)
- The consultation system on mental health of youths, prevention of drug abuse, sex, and measures against infectious diseases in the local community have been improved, while enhancing measures in medical institutions. In particular, the consultation systems has been improved in order to develop sound awareness and disseminate correct understanding of sex, for example, through the diffusion of consultation and educational activities by people of the same generation who share similar views (peer counseling, peer education). In fiscal 2003, frameworks were established, on a trial basis, in medical institutions to provide medical, mental, and social consultation and assistance to young individuals who have concerns about pregnancy.
(Developing abilities and motivation to work)
- Based on the "Action Plan for Young People's Independence and Challenge," MEXT is making the best use of local communities' capabilities and promoting career education programs for youths, in fiscal 2005. For example, MEXT plans to establish a system in each prefecture to promote practical job experiences at workplaces, and implement a program providing junior high school students with 5 days of work experience at a workplace.
- As part of the activities to be conducted under the Young People's Independence and Challenge Plan, the Cabinet Office is carrying out a campaign, in fiscal 2005, for encouraging young women to consider occupations in the fields of science and technology where there are fewer female workers. In cooperation with relevant government organizations, the Cabinet Office plans to promote information release and educational opportunities for young women so that they learn more about jobs in the fields of science and technology. Also, the Cabinet Office plans to establish an information system to help women become well-informed about various vocational needs in the National Women's Education Center, Japan.
- The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare deploys "job supporters for young workers" at public employment security offices nationwide. Those supporters are supposed to provide youths with continuous support from the job seeking stage to the training stages after employment. For example, they arrange workplace tours for school students to gain good understanding about workplaces even before leaving a school. The Ministry also continues a human resources development program in which job counselors for youths are fostered at polytechnic colleges and universities (those counselors are professional advisors on decision and designing of career and working life), and in fiscal 2005, has been operating regional job consultation services so that people can receive professional advice easily at existing municipal facilities.
(Developing abilities for living in society)
- The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare develop infrastructure to facilitate and promote the participation of young adolescents in volunteer activities.
- In order to foster international understanding and the international perspective of high school students, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology invite foreign high school students, provide information on exchange programs for high school students conducted by relevant organizations, and offer support for such programs.
Section 4 Young adults
(Improving university education)
- Regarding improvement of the admission process of universities, there has been a recent diversification of selection and assessment policies. For example, conducting interviews, essay exams, and listening tests in addition to academic tests, admission on the basis of recommendations, special selection for returnee students and working members of society, and an increase in the number of universities (in fiscal 2004, 375 universities including national, public, and private universities) whose admission process includes both detailed paper screening and time-consuming elaborate interviews.
- Starting from fiscal 2004, MEXT has been implementing a youth support project especially designed for underemployed persons (including those young people who are unemployed or lack full-time employment) who desire a full-time job. This project, characterized by the utilization of specialized training colleges, helps those underemployed young people obtain vocational skills and knowledge through short-term educational programs developed jointly by the Ministry and businesses. In fiscal 2005, the Ministry also launched an intensive research project to develop effective educational programs/methods for use in specialized training colleges with a focus on skills that are in high demand. Another project aiming to foster young people's working motivation through education at specialized training colleges has been also launched.
(Improving occupational skill development and job-finding support)
- In order to support the vocational independence of youths, establishment of one-stop service centers (centralization of contact centers at related organizations; establishment of a comprehensive contact point for initial consultation by consolidating related information) for youths has been promoted under the cooperation among local governments, industries and universities. This will be a core measure of the 'Young People's Independence and Challenge Plan,' compiled in June 2003. The project of "one-stop service center" for youths (called "job cafe") was commenced during fiscal 2004. This project of establishing regional service centers for job-seeking young people is planned to be further promoted in fiscal 2005.
- In accordance with the Action Plan for Young People's Independence and Challenge, the Cabinet Office plans to launch in fiscal 2005 a project, tentatively called "Youth Forum", where the following plans will be conducted: (1) exchange of opinions, information release and collection of opinions of young people on the internet, (2) holding symposiums, tentatively called "Youth Challenge Caravan," and (3) survey on working attitudes and measures of young people. The Cabinet Office will promote publicity on the necessity of human resources development through the "Youth Forum."
- Starting from fiscal 2004, a "Japanese-style dual system" has been introduced. This is a vocational skills development program characterized by a bilateral training system where on-the-job training at a workplace and vocational education at a school are provided at the same time. Fiscal 2005 plans for further improvement and extensive utilization of this Japanese-style dual system include the introduction of a trial course designed for job-seeking university graduates and the activities to encourage private businesses and educational/training institutions to promote their commitment to the dual system.
(Supporting, lifestyle and life planning)
- The student aid programs such as scholarships have been expanded so that when students with motivation and ability for learning wish to receive scholarships, they can study with a sense of assurance free of financial worries. In fiscal 2005, scholarships amounting to 751 billion yen (up 69 billion yen from the previous year) will be granted to 1,034,000 students (up nearly 69,000 students from the previous year).