Anyone who has ever taught or known a teacher knows how intense the workload can be — all over the world, teachers find themselves left adrift against a current of curriculums and nights spent grading papers, only to be rewarded with complaints and abuse from students, parents, and higher-ups alike.
In Japan, things get even more intense for junior high school educators. Junior high school is when kids start joining extracurricular clubs and sports teams, and those need supervisors. Club activities can take place both before and after school and occasionally on weekends, and portions of summer vacation are carved out for events like competitions or performances.
One might wonder, then, when Japanese junior high school teachers are supposed to have time to do the other thousands of responsibilities they have to their students…and failing that, if there’s ever any time for them to get a break.
The Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology is taking steps to address this problem by reforming club activities into “local activities”, meaning that local sports clubs, community workers, or gym staff could feasibly supervise in teachers’ stead. This also addresses the issue of teachers assigned to a club being unable to provide helpful guidance to their students; teachers are frequently assigned to sports or cultural clubs without any expertise in the club’s subject matter, meaning they can’t field student questions or give useful advice.
The reforms are expected to be put into practice in junior high schools three years from now, with high school reforms to follow suit depending on results. Response to the announced reforms was largely positive, although various netizens seemed doubtful that community figures would be capable of supervising the rowdy teens you’d expect to find in a junior high school club meeting.