The growth and plight of Brazilian schools in Japan

Brazilian schools have been hit hard by the global recession with many students leaving school suddenly with unpaid tuition. Even before the 2008 plunged the world and Japan into global recession, Brazilian schools had already been struggling to survive (see Cash-strapped Brazilian schools close, Apr 21, 2007 reported that 8 of the Brazilian schools (including the Escola Paralelo’s Ina branch in Ina, Nagano Prefecture) had closed due to financial difficulties. 

According to the education ministry, there were 88 schools at the end of 2007 catering to Japanese-Brazilian children, but four of the 88 schools were recognized by the Education ministry at the end of 2007 as learning institutions.

Most Brazilian schools are considered cramschools under the Japanese educational system. As such, the schools do not receive subsidies or financial support from the central or local governments…hence the high tuition fees for the schools. Non-recogition of the schools also means higher expenses for students as they are not entitled to special student fare rates when they commute to the schools. 

However, the Brazilian ministry took steps to introduce the certified school system in 2000, which made the credits earned at certified schools in Japan equal to those earned from schools in Brazil so long as the local schools followed the Brazilian school curriculum. The ministry had approved 56 schools in 11 prefectures including Aichi, Gifu, Gunma and Shiga by 2007.

The students drop out of schools due to jobless parents and the high tuition fees. In Tokai and other regions, many Brazilian labourers work at automotive factories or in other industries as dispatched or contract workers. Some lose their jobs or leave for other areas and higher wages … creating an unstable family environment for Brazilian students.

In 2005, the figure for Brazilian children attending public elementary and middle schools in Japan was 7,600. But many children have refused to attend the public schools or have quit due to difficulty in attending Japanese course work or for family financial as well as other reasons.

Japan is estimated to have a community of more than 300,000 Japanese-Brazilians. Of them, 33,000 are in the 5-14 age bracket, of which one-third are thought to be attending Brazilian schools, where the primary language of instruction is Portuguese. (In 1990, there were only 1,495 Brazilian children and by the end of 2005, there were 28,804) The largest community is in Hamamatsu home to about 6 schools and 18,000 Brazilians. The closure of Brazilian schools is a severe problem depriving many Brazilian children of the opportunity to receive an education.

In recent years, the numbers of Brazilian school increased sharply as a result of a large influx of workers from Brazil. This was due to the relaxation of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law in 1990 that allowed large numbers of Brazilians of Japanese descent to work in Japan.


Brazilian schools losing students Japan Times
Recession hits enrollment at Brazilian schools Dec 4, Daily Yomiuri

Cash-strapped Brazilian schools close The Daily Yomiuri Apr 21, 2007

Shiga donates textbooks to Brazilian schools The Daily Yomiuri


Some Brazilian schools include: Brazilian school NER Maebashi in Gunma Prefecture; Centro de Recreacao de Estudos Sato (aka Sato Gauen)

In other related news:

Recognition benefits foreign kids’ schools (Apr 11, 2006 Daily Yomiuri) mentions Spanish-speaking schools for Peruvians and South Americans such as Mundo de Alegria, Hamamatsu, Shizuoka. In 2004, Mundo de Alegria became the first approved “miscellaneous” school specializing in the education of children from South America. According to MEXT, there were 81 such approved schools for Korean children and 24 for any nationality. The prefectural government had relaxed the criteria for approving “miscellaneous schools” serving foreign children … this relaxation allowed schools for foreign students to use rented facilities as long as the local governments agree that these schools should be given official recognition …as opposed to the previous requirement that schools own their buildings.

Ethnic schools unite to resolve problems  (The Daily Yomiuri) mentions the Colegio Privado Hispano Americano, a school for Spanish-speaking children in Isesaki, Gunma Prefecture which has the largest community of Peruvians; The Ecumenical Learning Center for Children (ELCC) is a school in Aichi Prefecture that is helping children who have fallen through the cracks, such as children born to illegal overstayers who lack official status; The AmerAsian School in Okinawa accepts children of Japanese mothers and servicemen or civilian workers from US military bases.

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