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Japan immigration

Japan to boost education support for non-native children

Easier-to-read entrance tests among proposals for more inclusive schools

Foreign children study at the New International School of Japan in Tokyo. (Photo by Ken Kobayashi)

TOKYO -- Japan will provide more support for educating children of foreign nationals from early childhood through high school, including by increasing Japanese-language classes, under a plan released Monday.

The education ministry's proposals follow changes in April to immigration law that allow certain foreign workers to bring family with them to Japan. Schools had already been facing a rise in students learning Japanese as a second language, prompting criticism that efforts on this front were lagging.

Monday's plan, which calls for working "to ensure that all children of foreign nationals have educational opportunities," seeks to provide seamless support to learners from preschoolers to job-seeking international students.

It proposes multi-language guides to ensure parents have information on how to enroll students at kindergartens and elementary schools.

Public schools are to receive more teachers for Japanese as a second language as well as aides who speak the languages of foreign students. Some schools currently have no such staff. Regions with a shortage of human resources will use translation and distance-learning systems.

Public high schools will be asked to give special considerations for Japanese-language learners when taking admissions tests, such as making it easier to read kanji characters and allowing the children to bring dictionaries into the exam rooms.

The ministry proposes creating an evening middle school program in every prefecture and major city for those who could not receive compulsory education in their home countries.

The initiative also will help international students in higher education find jobs in Japan, proposing the certification of collaboration programs between universities and businesses.

The plan covers Japanese-language learners of all ages.A 14-language online curriculum for self-study will be developed for residents of areas that lack easy access to Japanese-language classes

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