Fukui Prefecture, Junior High School Students’ English Levels, Number One in Japan

Fukui Prefecture, Junior High School Students’ English Levels, Number One in Japan

2019 Report, Third Year in a Row, 61% for 3rd Year JHS Students Have at Least EIKEN Grade 3 Proficiency

On July 15th, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) released an implementation status survey report regarding English education across public elementary, junior high, and senior high schools in Japan, during the 2019 fiscal year. Within Fukui Prefecture, 61.4% of third-year junior high school (JHS) students had an English proficiency equivalent to “EIKEN Grade 3 or higher” (a 0.2 point increase, from the previous year), and 58.4% of third-year senior high school (SHS) students had an English proficiency equivalent to “EIKEN Pre-Grade 2 or higher” (a 2.4 point increase); by prefecture, the numbers paced Fukui Prefecture in top place for the third year in a row.

The survey was carried out in December 2019, by prefecture and government ordinance city for JHS, and by prefecture for SHS. In addition to looking at English certificates obtained by the students (equivalent to EIKEN Grade 3 for JHS students, and EIKEN Pre-Grade 2 for SHS students), the teachers’ judgement on whether the student “has the equivalent proficiency”, based on the student’s grades, are also taken into account. With the national average of 44.0% of third-year JHS students with such proficiency, and 43.6% for third-year SHS students, Fukui Prefecture surpassed other prefectures under both categories by a large margin.

In Fukui Prefecture, the percentage of English teachers with at least an EIKEN Pre-Grade 1 certification is 59.7% within junior high schools (a 1.0 point increase, from the previous year), and 93.9% within senior high schools (a 2.5 point increase). Compared to the national average of 38.1% among JHS English teachers, and 72.0% among SHS English teachers, Fukui Prefecture also excelled within these categories.

Regarding the verification of the high English proficiency of the students and teachers, the Fukui Prefectural Board of Education provided their analysis, “Along with lessons being conventionally carried out in English, we are maintaining our path along continuous improvement. This is the result of the steady progress by both the students and teachers.”

Source: https://www.fukuishimbun.co.jp/articles/-/1124557

Approving Taking Off Masks While Travelling To and From School on Hot Days

Approving Taking Off Masks While Travelling To and From School on Hot Days

Notice by the Fukui Municipal Board of Education, Heatstroke Countermeasure

By June 8th, every elementary and junior high school in Fukui City received a notice form the Fukui Municipal Board of Education (in Fukui Prefecture) stating that in order to prevent students from getting heatstroke, with the increased risk on days with high temperature and humidity, it has been approved that masks, which has been serving as a preventative tool against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) infection, can be taken off while at school and while travelling to and from school.

According to the Fukui Municipal Board of Education, the Novel Coronavirus Countermeasure City Guidelines was revised on June 5th, after MEXT (the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) indicated in the Hygiene Management Guidelines that masks are okay to be taken off in situations where the risk of heatstroke is high. In cases where masks are taken off, measures including room ventilation and having 1-2 metres of space between the students are asked to be carried out.

In the first version of the guideline, released in February, it was requested that, outside of lunch time, physical education classes, and during club activities, masks are to be continuously worn.

In a city council general interpellation on June 8th, Superintendent of Education Yuuji Yoshikawa expressed, “Because we are approaching the hot season, we are requesting the schools’ consideration,” responding to a question by councillor Ichii Hatta (Isshin Party).

Source: https://www.fukuishimbun.co.jp/articles/-/1101029

Fukui Prefectural Governor, Tough to Reopen Schools During May

Fukui Prefectural Governor, Tough to Reopen Schools During May

One Week Notice Before Reopening

In a press conference on April 28th, Fukui Prefectural Governor Tatsuji Sugimoto announced that the reopening for prefectural schools will be further postponed for the time being, as a preventative measure against the continuous spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Municipal boards of education, which oversees elementary and junior high schools, have received and generally acknowledged the postponement request. Video lessons will be broadcast for elementary, junior high, and senior high schools students for home study. Prefectural schools have set up one day a week for students to attend school.

During early April, the prefectural and each municipal education boards had announced the postponement of school reopening until or after May 7th. Prefectural Governor Sugimoto expressed his thoughts on the decision made during this occasion, “We can’t disregard the possibility of more infections, because of the flow of people during Golden Week.”

Concerning the time when schools can reopen, Governor Sugimoto stated his opinion, “It is necessary to confirm (the COVID-19 situation) during the two-week period following Golden Week. I think the prospect of reopening schools during May will be tough.” There will be a one week notice before school reopens.

According to the Prefectural Board of Education, in a meeting held by the superintendents of the municipal education boards on April 28th, before the press conference, elementary and junior high schools generally accepted the circumstances of postponing the reopening of schools. Regarding elementary and junior high schools, each municipal education board will officially determine when school attendance will take place.

For prefectural schools, May 7th and 8th will have students attend school, and will have the entrance ceremonies. Students will be divided into groups, visiting schools at different times, being there for a shorter period of time.

From May 11th, high school students will receive broadcasts of video lessons, created by their school teachers, which will work alongside their textbooks. Elementary and junior high school students will also receive a broadcast of video lessons through cable television and YouTube. Families without internet connection will be sent DVDs, with DVD players to be loaned out to those who need it. The Prefectural Board of Education expressed in a statement, “In accordance with a notice by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), once the study materials have been established, the content will be regarded as complete among the school’s curriculum.”

With the danger of increased stress for the school children, because of the prolonged school closures, class teachers will be available to communicate with the students when they attend school. Consultations with the school nurse or counsellor will also be available as needed.

At the same time, concerning private schools, president of the Fukui Prefectural Private Junior and Senior High Schools Association, Akihito Ogihara (Keishin Senior High School Principal) said, “Each school have, for the most part, been acting in accordance with the prefectural governor’s request. We will continue to provide academic support through online learning, using various methods such as recorded videos and live broadcasts.”

Source: https://www.fukuishimbun.co.jp/articles/-/1077606

Fukui Prefecture, Towards Reopening Children’s Outdoor Facilities

Fukui Prefecture, Towards Reopening Children’s Outdoor Facilities

From March 15th, New Practices Responding to the Novel Coronavirus

On March 12th, to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Fukui Prefecture has announced that the ongoing postponement and suspension of prefectural facilities and events have been extended to March 24th. Meanwhile, upon raising alerts for outdoor prefectural children’s facilities, regulations have been relaxed to allow a reopening from the 15th.

New practices were outlined at a Fukui Prefectural Novel Coronavirus Response Headquarters conference.

The easing of regulations for outdoor facilities was based on a notice by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). The outdoor facilities which will reopen, including the Fukui Prefectural Children’s Science Museum (in Sakai City), posted notices concerning the potential danger of infection when using the playground equipment.

Facilities which are currently open, such as the Fukui Prefectural Library, revised its infection prevention policies, from advising children to “please refrain” from using the facility, to “please refrain from staying for an extended period of time”, as well as implementing other preventative measures such as ventilation.

Regarding the opening of indoor facilities and holding events, three preventative measures have been appended to be implemented: carrying out proper ventilation, reducing the number of people in one space, and avoiding close interactions.

On March 13th, a number of facilities remaining closed due to having a higher risk of group infections, and events that have been suspended or postponed were also listed in the conference.

Concerning other matters in the conference, it was stated that about forty-thousand medical face masks will be delivered from the country and into the prefecture throughout the next week. Also, third-year prefectural senior high school students who have received post-graduation job offers have not been affected by the COVID-19 situation, as of March 12th.

Source: https://www.fukuishimbun.co.jp/articles/-/1046603

Introducing a Consulting Service Site to Overcome Truancy

Introducing a Consulting Service Site to Overcome Truancy

Support for Elementary, Middle, and High School Students, by Fukui Prefecture

Fukui Prefecture has launched the “Fukui Prefecture Hikikomori and Truancy Support and Information” website, which is geared towards hikikomori (a person suffering from social withdrawal), truant students, and concerned family members; the site consolidates all relevant information regarding the various issues. Each city and town started up its designated consulting service counter, for those struggling to establish a place for family gathering or where one can feel at home; visitors can find a catalog of recent news and contact information for public and private support groups. Associates with the services are eagerly standing by to connect with anyone looking for advice.

According to an investigation result published by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT) on October 17, the number of truant students in public elementary, junior high, and senior high schools in the prefecture, during 2018, totalled to 1,054 students. According to the national survey, there was an estimated total of one million hikikomori, with ages ranging between 15 and 64. In the Fukui Prefecture Hikikomori Regional Center (located in Fukui City), within one year, there have been over one thousand cases that received consultation services.

The support groups in each are of the prefecture set up a system to inform concerned persons and families, on the steps of how to reconnect with society. In conjunction with the establishment of the consultation service website, each city and town’s health and welfare bureau will be designated for the services. Including prefectural institutions, a total of 34 places are listed on the site. Details and contact information of 13 public and private support groups, such as nonprofit organizations (NPO) who open their free space for family gatherings or a personal safe space, and alternative schools, are gathered and displayed on the site. Information on various events and lectures within the prefecture are also listed and updated as needed.

A Fukui Prefecture Disability and Social Welfare department secretary managing the site, Shigehiro Kato, explained the current situation, “There are many cases where those afflicted and concerned family members are heavily burdened with anxiety for many years, unable to confide their troubles with anyone.” Up to now, many are unaware of the consultation services, with many afflicted people and families often saying something like, “I wish I had used these services sooner.” Secretary Kato said, “Taking advice from an outside party also means they are taking steps towards improvement. I wish more people to visit the site, join the various events, and reach out to connect for advice.

Source: https://www.fukuishimbun.co.jp/articles/-/968158