Tokyo looks beyond border to find teachers

The Asahi Shimbun  1st May 2003

The Tokyo metropolitan government once had a plethora of teachers lining up to seek work in the capital. But education officials are now looking beyond the city's boundaries to find quality teachers for Tokyo's elementary schools next school year.

The problem isn't that teaching standards have fallen. It has to do with the central government's education policy in recent years that emphasizes classes with fewer students per teacher.

The policy has increased the number of classes-and the need for more teachers.

In fact, the metropolitan government has nearly quadrupled the number of teachers hired since 1999.

``Unless we do something now, competition would fall and that would affect the future (quality of education),'' said Mitsuo Matsudo, an official involved in hiring at the Tokyo government's Educational Commission.

The commission plans to hold seminars in Sendai today and in Osaka on Friday where a video will feature teachers at Tokyo schools discussing their experiences.

Applications for jobs in Tokyo will be accepted in Sendai and Osaka. Examinations will be held in July to screen applicants.

Several years ago, the commission had no problems finding qualified teachers. But the situation has changed in the last three or four years.

In fiscal 1999, the commission hired 308 elementary school teachers from 2,040 applicants, meaning one in every 6.6 applicants landed a job. In fiscal 2002, the commission hired 913 from 2,768 applicants, or a 1-in-3 ratio.

For this fiscal year, about 1,150 teachers were hired out of 2,803 applicants, or one in every 2.4 applicants.

Education officials say the hiring ratio should be at least 1-in-3 to ensure that elementary schools get quality teachers.

``Expanding the quota of teachers is good news for prospective teachers. But it would affect the quality of education if teachers are hired too easily,'' said Hirotoshi Yamasaki, professor of sociology of education at Hiroshima University. ``The role of teacher-training colleges should be reviewed and students at such institutions should be increased, starting with those in large

(IHT/Asahi: May 1,2003)

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