Community schools gaining popularity

Locally managed public schools gaining popularity  The Daily Yomiuri Thurs, Jan 8, 2009

Paving the way for parents and local residents to get involved in the management of public schools in their neighborhoods, the nation’s community school system was established in 2004 when a revision was made to a law concerning education administration systems at the local government level. Modeled after similar systems overseas, such as in Britain, the system aims at providing local citizens with certain authority and responsibilities, thus allowing their needs to be reflected in school management quickly and appropriately.

Under the system, municipal boards of education desginate local public insitutions as community schools and appint parents and mother local residents as members of school management councils.

These councils are expected to express their opinions on basic school management policies, such as budget and educational programs, before approving them. Moreover they can also express their opinions to prefectural boards of education, which handle personnel matters, on what kinds of teachers they wish to have working at their schools. These requests are supposed to be respected by the boards.

A primary school in Adachi Ward, Tokyo, was designated as the first community school in November 2004, and 343 public schools in 65 municipalities nationwide had followed in its path as of April 1 last year, according to the Education, Science and Technology Ministry. They included not only mainstream primary through high schools, but also kindergartens and schools for the disabled.

Among municipalities, Kyoto had the greatest number, with 110, followed by Izumo, Shimane Prefecture, with 49 and Okayama, with 35.

Still more community schools have been designated in Kyoto and Tokyo since April.

Nationally, community schools are more likely to be found in western Japan, while the Hokkaido and Tohoku regions have fewer than 10 in total.                                                                  — Shigeru Nakanishi

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