Education boards hit for using contract staff as ALTs (The Yomiuri Shimbun)

Twenty-three municipal boards of education in Osaka Prefecture are suspected of using native English-speaking contract workers as assistant language teachers and placing them under the control of schools, a possible violation of the Temporary Staffing Services Law, an Osaka-based union announced Thursday.

The Osaka Labor Bureau has instructed six municipal boards of education, including those in Takatsuki, Sakai, Hirakata and Higashi-Osaka, to reconsider the practices, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

A union spokesman said it was legal for the boards to use the contract workers as ALTs as long as they worked at the public schools under the direction of the staffing agencies. But he added that the boards of education had used the temporary workers like dispatch workers, who are under the direct control of schools.

According to the union comprising 550 Japanese and non-Japanese workers, which also provides consultation services for those workers, the 23 municipal boards said they received the contract workers from staffing agencies and let them work at public schools as ALTs, who are required to follow school curriculums and policies.

In January, the union sent questionnaires to all 43 municipal boards of education in the prefecture. Twenty-three said they had used contract workers sent from the agencies as ALTs, the union said.

A 27-year-old teacher who was dispatched to the Hashimoto Municipal Board of Education in Wakayama Prefecture by Zenken said he was given a general orientation about ALTs by the firm before he began working at public schools in the city, adding that he was usually instructed what to do in class by Japanese teachers.

(Mar. 23, 2007)