The government will strengthen support for foreign children in need of Japanese-language education with a planned doubling of the budget as part of efforts to ensure they are not missing out on learning opportunities, the education ministry said Thursday.
Based on a survey conducted last year, the ministry estimates that more than 19,000 out of the around 124,000 foreign children of elementary or junior high school-age in Japan do not attend school at all, including international schools.
It also found that there is growing demand for Japanese-language education in public elementary and junior high schools.
In accounting for the lack of attendance, the ministry said some children and guardians may not possess sufficient command of the Japanese language and support also varies among local governments, with many only sending notices regarding enrollment in Japanese.
The ministry allocated a budget of around 700 million yen ($6.6 million) this fiscal year for support measures, which included covering one-third of the labor costs of Japanese-language tutors and assistants to provide advice in children’s native tongues.
The ministry plans to request a doubling of the budget for fiscal 2021 to meet the growing needs of local governments. It will also create multilingual video materials and hold training sessions for teachers at public schools to enable the admission of more foreign children.
Unlike local students, foreign residents of Japan are not subject to compulsory education. The ministry, however, urges public schools to ensure that all foreign children in Japan have the same educational opportunities as local students.