Photo by Christoph Theisinger on Unsplash
Photo by Christoph Theisinger on Unsplash

Japan: Teachers’ union in dialogue with government to address major challenges after country-wide school closures

published 24 March 2020 updated 25 March 2020

Japan Teachers’ Union has voiced concern over students’ wellbeing during the school closures brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Temporary educators also face serious problems as classes are suspended. The union is working with the national Ministry of Education and Parliament to find solutions.

On 27 February, the Japanese Government ordered the temporary closure of elementary, junior high, high and special needs’ education schools from March 2 until the first day of the spring holidays. According to the Japan Teachers’ Union (JTU), students, educators, and parents are concerned about the consequences of the school closures for the provision of education, the impact on vulnerable students and the precarious situation of temporary staff. The JTU is affiliated to Education International.

With schools closed around the country, children - especially those from poor economic backgrounds and/or with special needs – may not have access to safe and comfortable environments, cautioned the union.

In addition, the measures will negatively impact many temporary educators in terms of their employment status, possible dismissals and salary uncertainty. The Government has passed new legislation to tackle the impact of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). It is also set to adopt a special economic package to compensate for salary losses caused by the temporary closure of schools, as well as by the cancellation of school events.

The JTU stressed that it will also be necessary to implement mental healthcare measures due to the long-term restrictions on the movement of people. In addition, the curriculum at all levels will have to be adjusted in response to the new status quo in the country.

The union reports it has been in talks with the Ministry of Education and with members of the Parliament regarding these issues, requesting support for schools and parents.