WHITE PAPER ON YOUTH 2003 -- Part Two Administrative Policies on Youths
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(1) The five-day school week system has been introduced in incremental steps that have been taken once a month from September 1992 and twice a month from April 1995. After the required system amendment, such as the revision of curriculum guidelines, the full-fledged system commenced operation in April 2002.
(2) In March 2001, the "Program for the Promotion of Infant Education" was developed as a comprehensive action plan to effectively promote measures for future advancement of infant education. During the scheduled action period from 2001 to 2005, various measures are being carried out to improve education activities and the education environment in kindergartens, provide child-care support in kindergartens, and enhance cooperation with elementary schools and day-care centers.
(3) In implementing the new educational curriculum, which started in April 2002, relevant measures have been taken with two major pillars in place: the improvement of "education of the mind" and "solid academic ability." In improving "education of the mind," "notebooks of the mind," which comprehensively state the moral matters children should master, were distributed to all elementary and junior high school students, and community volunteers, as "teachers of the mind," were dispatched to schools. As reference to support the efforts to improve "solid academic ability" in each school, "Invitation to Learning," which summarizes the main focuses in teaching, was published in January 2002. In 2003, the implementation of "Action Plan for Academic Improvement" started for the following principal objectives: (1) expand teaching methods in accordance with the characters of individual students; (2) improve the quality of academic ability; (3) enhance the characteristics and ability of individual students; and (4) improve language skills in English and Japanese.
(4) Under the "e-Japan Strategic Plan," relevant measures have been taken to improve environments to enable students to make active use of computers and the Internet in any class by 2005, such as the installation of computers for classes, connection to the Internet, increased training, and development of educational contents.
(5) As for science education in elementary and junior high schools, improvements have been made in the new educational curriculum and several measures have been taken under the "I Love Science and Technology" plan that is aimed to comprehensively and uniformly promote projects to enhance education in science, technology and natural science.
(6) Relevant measures have been comprehensively taken to deal with problematic behavior among children, such as increased placement of school counselors. Furthermore, the "Council of Participants in Study and Research on the Problem of Truancy" was inaugurated in March 2003 to arrange appropriate responses to truancy in the future. In 2003, a new project, "Schooling Support Network (SSN) Project," has also started with the aim of establishing a regional network that includes the whole community in order to take early responses to truancy and provide guidance to help children who have refused to go to school to be readapted into school environments. In July 2001, the School Education Law was amended to clarify the requirements and procedures of the suspension system and specify educational support for suspended students, and eventually to properly deal with problem students. In addition, by implementing the "Project Promoting the Establishment of Support Teams and Other Regional Support Systems," the government has been working to improve relevant measures in this respect.
(7) Reference materials for teachers were produced and distributed on guidance to the problems of smoking, drinking, drug abuse and sex as well as on oral health guidance at schools, and relevant workshops are being offered to teachers to improve their teaching skills.
(8) To improve high school education, the establishment of unique schools, classes and courses, including the new types of schools such as comprehensive courses or unit-based high schools has been encouraged. The government has been working on curriculum development based on students' choices-for example, by increasing the choices of subjects.
(9) In consideration of the introduction of the integrated school system in April 1999, relevant measures have been taken since 1998, such as commissioning research projects to local governments, giving a "forum for the promotion of the integrated school system," and the production and distribution of relevant leaflets. Starting in 2001, "designated schools for the development of integrated schooling" projects have been commissioned to local governments to actively encourage the introduction of integrated school education.
(10) Strong educational effects can be expected of high school students when they have interactive working experiences associated with the subjects they are currently learning or their future career path. In 1999, efforts were made to actively promote internship systems, for example, by holding national forums with participation from experts from education and business fields.
(11) Special education has been provided to disabled students according to the type or degree of disability of individual students, by designing special educational curriculums, organizing classes with fewer students, preparing textbooks with special care, placing teachers with technical knowledge and experience, and arranging facilities and equipment specifically for disabled students. With consideration given to the recent trends in education for disabled students, such that some students suffer severe or multiple disabilities and that educational actions are expected for students with learning disabilities (LD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the government will enhance measures and review the educational system with the aim of achieving the recommendations stated in the final report by the "Council of Participants in Study and Research on Desirable Approaches in Special Support Education," which was prepared in March 2003.
(12) Facing various changes in the educational situation such as the rising advancement rate, increasingly sophisticated academic research, the progress in internationalization and IT utilization, the declining population under 18 and increasing needs for learning activities throughout society, the government is promoting reforms in higher education according to discussions at the Central Educational Council's Sectional Meeting on Universities, through diversifying the contents of higher education and changing the educational system to be more flexible.
(13) In consideration of the important social role played by special training schools in the midst of industrial structural changes and rapid advancement of technical innovation, relevant measures have been taken to promote education at these schools. In 2003 for the purpose of developing human resources that have practical capabilities in line with social needs, "Projects for Research and Development on Advanced Education at Special Training Schools" will start to promote research and development on new educational methods that deal with urgent tasks such as effective use of e-learning and distance education between schools.
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