2018 Volume 85 Issue 2 Pages 196-205
Evening classes at public junior high schools have been positioned as a peripheral domain of the educational system until recently. However, they have now been legitimized as a system and will become a standard provision of mainstream education. For people associated with these evening classes, the major shift from “tacit approval” to “expansion” by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology signifies the culmination of a long-standing wish. At the same time, a number of people have voiced their concerns about the loss of educational values cultivated thus far.
In this paper, I discuss the recent trends associated with the legislation surrounding evening classes and describe the development of initiatives, interactions, and conflicts among the officials involved in the administration of these classes. I suggest several points that should be considered when offering evening classes to the wider society post-legislation in order to answer the following questions: How are they trying to create new initiatives? How are they managing the classes and the schools? How are they providing practical support to learners?
The Zenkoku Yakan Chūgakkō Kenkyū-kai (National Evening Junior High School Conference) constitutes the core of the movement for legislation on evening classes, which has been promoted by students, graduates, retired teachers, and people participating in voluntary evening classes. Despite being one of the highest priorities in the establishment of the legal position of evening classes, the issue of formal graduation has been relegated to the background. The negotiation process with legislators advanced under “uniform diplomacy in all quarters” to focus on the government's compulsory education provision as a human resource development policy and a human right. Finally, the requests by people associated with evening classes were recognized as largely legitimate, including the issue of formal graduation.
The following four points were presented as major issues to be resolved after legislation. First, could evening classes become the basis for a reorganization of school education? With no changes in school education, it is feared that the education system may be reorganized to make use of evening classes as a method to paper over various problems of the wider system. Second, to ensure that this does not happen, it will be necessary to postpone the widespread development of evening classes until after the legislation while the evening class movement integrates its values and ideas. Third, it is expected that in areas with no facilities, voluntary evening classes will play a greater role than other organizations. Voluntary evening classes are driving the expansion of the evening class movement, and at the same time, are a way of continuing to investigate solutions to learners' needs. Fourth, based on the above, it is important to explore the organization of a basic educational security system with evening classes at the core. It is essential to incorporate literacy classes in discriminated-against communities as well as local Japanese language classes in order to utilize the joint council prescribed by the Act of Ensuring Educational Opportunity, as a mechanism to ensure the local governance of basic educational security.