The council for revitalization of education will be submitting a proposal to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for educational reforms for universities and steps towards globalization of education in the country. One of the proposals is to make English-language courses compulsory in the fifth and sixth grades.
Currently, the curriculum in the two grades classifies English as a “foreign language activity” instead of a required course subject and they only study it for one hour every week. If parents wanted their children to study English further, they either enrolled them in an after-school language institute or hired native English speakers to tutor the kids. But the council said that in order for Japan to be globally competitive, English language education needs to be expanded and enhanced, and it needs to start as early as possible.
Some of the suggestions in the proposal include introducing foreign language activities up until fourth grade, then making English classes compulsory starting fifth grade. The English classes should also be expanded and full-time English teachers should be added to the faculty. But before these plans will be implemented, teachers will have to be put in place and education environments need to be improved first. They are expected to submit the complete proposal by this month.
Hakubun Shimomura, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and Waseda University President Kaoru Kamata, council chairman, talked to reporters after their meeting. Shimomoura said that the Central Council for Education should take charge of the policy making while the ministry will be the ones to implement the proposal once approved.