竹富町の教科書 学校の違法状態は看過できぬ

The Yomiuri Shimbun March 17, 2014
Use of unauthorized textbook at schools in Taketomi should not be overlooked
竹富町の教科書 学校の違法状態は看過できぬ(3月17日付・読売社説)

It is extremely problematic that the law has been ignored for nearly two years at schools, and this situation must be corrected as soon as possible.

Education minister Hakubun Shimomura has finally issued the so-called demand for corrective action, urging the town board of education in Taketomi, Okinawa Prefecture, to stop using a textbook it has unilaterally adopted in defiance of rules regarding the selection of textbooks to be used in schools.

It was the first time that the demand based on the Local Government Law has been issued to a municipal government. The Taketomi Board of Education should not take it lightly.

In the summer of 2011, the Yaeyama district, including the city of Ishigaki and the towns of Taketomi and Yonaguni, selected a civics textbook published by Ikuhosha Publishing Inc. for use in middle schools. The problem started when the Taketomi Board of Education alone decided to adopt a textbook published by Tokyo Shoseki Co.

The law on supplying free textbooks at public primary and middle schools requires a wide-area educational district consisting of more than one municipality to adopt the same textbooks, on the grounds that it makes it easier for teachers to conduct joint studies on educational materials. The unilateral action by the Taketomi board constitutes a clear violation of the law.

Since April 2012, the Taketomi Board of Education has distributed to students copies of the Tokyo Shoseki textbook paid for by donations from town residents. The then administration of the Democratic Party of Japan showed a lenient attitude toward such textbook purchases. It is undeniable that the misstep by the DPJ administration has served to fuel disarray.

Prevent recurrence

Since a change of government in December 2012, the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has repeatedly urged the Taketomi board to adopt the Ikuhosha textbook in accordance with the law on the provision of free textbooks—which, we believe, is a matter of course for a nation under the rule of law. If the Taketomi board continues to defy correction demands, the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry should consider filing a lawsuit to confirm the illegality of the board’s action.

The Okinawa Prefectural Board of Education’s responses to the problem cannot escape criticism.

Last October, Shimomura instructed the prefectural board to demand the Taketomi board rectify the situation. The prefectural board did not comply, saying the Taketomi action has not caused any major problems, among other reasons given.

To prevent a recurrence of such a development, the government has submitted a bill to revise the law on the provision of free textbooks to the current Diet session. The key point written in the bill would require any educational district comprising more than one municipality to establish a council to select textbooks at public primary and middle schools, and that educational boards adopt textbooks in accordance with the council’s decision.

It is significant to give more clarity to the procedure of adopting textbooks.

The revised bill also includes a stipulation that would require boards of education to make efforts to publicize reasons for adopting certain textbooks.

For example, a good amount of description given to territorial issues was one of the reasons that the Yaeyama district— located close to the Senkaku Islands—selected the Ikuhosha textbook. Heightened tension between Japan and China is the reason for its adoption.

It is of utmost importance for each board of education to win the acceptance of local residents and students’ parents or guardians by fully explaining the reasons for adopting certain textbooks.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 17, 2014)
(2014年3月17日01時59分  読売新聞)

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