Have you ever wished that you were the only student in your school so that the teacher can focus on you more and you can study as quietly as you want? Well, as they always say, be careful what you wish. One student in a school in Fukushima is currently living that reality and it isn’t as “fun” as it may seem, even for loners and introverts.
11 year old Takashi Sato is the lone student at the Onami Elementary School in Fukushima, as fears of radiation continue to hound the area, following the Fukushima Nuclear Plant meltdown in 2011. The school used to have 41 children before March 2011, which dwindled down to 10 until the academic year 2012 ended in March. Now, it’s only Sato, who’s in sixth grade, who’s left. Seven sixth graders have graduated to junior high, while the other two have transferred to a nearby elementary school. But Sato chooses to remain, despite the challenges and a few advantages of being the only kid in school. He sits in a 60 square meter classroom everyday, sitting across his 41 year old teacher Kei Omuro as they study arithmetic, English and all other subjects a normal sixth grade class would do, except that there’s no one else to talk to except each other.
Masaaki Abe, the principal of the school said that they’re trying to make sure that Sato will interact with as many people as possible, from being greeted by the vice principal at the schoolyard everyday, to eating lunch with the teacher and two other employees everyday. Even the local residents have pitched in to make sure he will be able to finish sixth grade. The Onami district solicited contributions and were able to gather 3 thousand dollars to give to the school for his education. They’re also organizing activities like sports festivals so that he will not be bored with just school work.
Takashi will move on to a junior high school after he graduates next year, but people are still hoping that the school will remain open, even as residents in the Onami district are not expected to return soon. They are in a mountainous area with relatively high levels of radiation, with 0.3 microsievert per hour, slightly lower than in the other parts of Fukushima. Currently, there are less than 100,000 elementary school students in Fukushima Prefecture, 19,000 less after the nuclear accident in 2011.
[ via Asahi Shimbun ]
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