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July 26, 2002

Special English Zone?

The city of Ota, Gunma Prefecture, has proposed an English education zone where the entire curriculum at public elementary, junior high and high schools would be taught by native English speakers. The proposal is a result, at the grass-roots level, of Prime Minister Koizumi's deregulatory reforms and in particular the idea of "special structural reform zones" in various locations nationwide. The thinking is that if the experiments work at the local level, it will provide ammunition against bureaucratic and vested-interest opponents of reform at the national level. Possible hurdles to the Ota City plan include the difficulty of getting a consensus on using textbooks other than those approved by the education ministry and whether graduates can get certification for entrance to university.

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