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March 11, 2010

Will international school students be subsidized?

globeb.gifThe government aims to make public high schools free and give a subsidy of ¥120,000 per student to families with children at private high schools. It is still not clear whether this will include students at international schools. The government has talked about providing subsidies as long as the school curriculum is equivalent to the curriculum at public high schools, but it is not clear how similar the curriculums need to be.

Some of those who are opposed to subsidizing students at North Korean high schools have pointed out that textbooks at these schools do not mention the abduction of Japanese citizens to North Korea. If so, does that mean that international schools would also need to follow government textbook guidelines? Prime Minister Hatoyama has said that the decision on which students to subsidize should be based on fair and objective guidelines, but what those guidelines are is not clear. There is likely to be a heated debate on this issue over the next few months.

The Japan Times reports that subsidies will not make much difference to families with children attending international schools where lessons are taught in English because the fees are so high and ¥120,000 a year will not reduce them by a significant percentage, but the subsidy will make a significant difference to families with children attending international schools where lessons are taught in other languages.

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