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July 07, 2005

Kurobe to Apply for Special English Zone Status

Kurobe City and the town of Unazuki, both in Toyama Prefecture, are planning to apply to the national government for deregulatory zone status focusing on English from the elementary school level, according to the Chunichi Shimbun. Board of Education members from the two municipalities, which are planning to merge under the name Kurobe City next year, recently produced a leaflet explaining their plans and sent it to all homes in the district with young children. The plan calls for one class a month at first and second grade, once a week for third and above in elementary school, with an emphasis on songs and games. In junior high school, there will be one "eikaiwa" lesson a week. Assistant teachers who specialize in English will be employed as well as native English-speaking ALTs at all levels. The two BoE's formed a planning committee in May and a group of 17 teachers are creating the curriculum. There will be an open symposium on August 7 in Kurobe, and the official application for special zone status will be filed in September.

The deregulatory zone scheme was launched in 2002. For an example of a typical application document, which includes background on the reason for the application as well as details of the plan, see this one submitted earlier this year by Suginami ward in Tokyo: view/download PDF file (in Japanese only).
Chunichi Shimbun article (Japanese)
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