Japan: Japan Teachers’ Union secures resources for safe school reopening and monitors their expenditure

published 17 September 2020 updated 9 June 2021

The Japan Teachers Union (JTU) had several discussions and negotiations with the Ministry of Education concerning safe re-opening of schools during COVID-19. Although they succeeded in obtaining those funds from the national government, they followed up to monitor the use of those funds in cooperation with 17 affiliated unions. Municipalities make the final decisions on whether those funds are used as intended.

The focus of discussions with the Ministry was on ensuring that adequate resources were provided to make the modifications necessary to open safely. The funding made available by the national government was for:

  • Distributing personal protective equipment to all pupils/students of elementary and junior high schools;
  • Equipment and tools for schools including face-shield, masks, gloves, clinical thermometers, bottles of disinfectant;
  • Learning support;
  • Cancelation/postponement of fees for school trips; and
  • Additional teachers and learning support staff.

The results of the research were generally positive. For example, most affiliates reported that they were involved in the process, but others said that there was not sufficient consultation on the implementation of safety measures. The same mixed experience was noted on the provision of more teachers and support staff. The results of the research were given to the Ministry, but also provided to local boards of education.