Continue to improve teacher skills after abolition of license renewal system

The teaching license renewal system, under which licenses have a 10-year expiration period and teachers are required to take training courses at the time of renewal, is to be abolished.

The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry plans to submit a bill to revise a related law during the ordinary Diet session next year. The ministry intends to abolish the system as early as the 2023 school year.

This is a sudden change in policy 12 years after the introduction of the system. Even after the system is abolished, efforts to improve the skills of teachers must not be curtailed.

The introduction of the system was decided by the first Cabinet of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe when the government was pushing for the “revitalization of education,” and it was implemented in the 2009 school year.

The existence of teachers who lacked teaching skills was behind the move. It can be said that the system was intended not only to improve the quality of teachers but also to dispel public distrust in schools.

When teachers renew their licenses, they are required to study educational policy and pedagogical methods for at least 30 hours at universities and other institutions. However, some teachers complained that the content of the courses was not practical. Many teachers also feel burdened by the duration of the courses and their cost of about ¥30,000 per teacher.

The education ministry cited as reasons for the abolition that teachers were too busy and the content of the courses was not substantive. The ministry bears a heavy responsibility for leaving the training courses up to universities.

Wasn’t there an option to maintain the system by taking such measures as reducing the burden on teachers and improving the content of the courses, rather than abolishing the system suddenly? The most important thing should be to provide better education for children.

Instead of setting an expiration period for licenses, the ministry plans to enhance and reinforce the training programs offered by each board of education when the renewal system ends.

The environment surrounding teachers has changed as they have to conduct online classes amid the novel coronavirus pandemic and respond to bullying on social media, among other changes. Teachers need a diverse range of skills and knowledge.

Training sessions can be a valuable opportunity for educators to polish their skills. The training programs offered by each board of education after the abolition of the renewal system must be effective to enable teachers to acquire practical knowledge that will be useful in the field.

It would also be effective to utilize online training sessions so that teachers can study in their own spare time.

The number of students aspiring to become teachers has been decreasing due mainly to long working hours, and there are concerns that the quality of teachers is declining. Improving the teaching skills of educators continues to be an important issue.

The ministry also said it will study the creation of systems to manage training attendance records and punish teachers who do not take training sessions.

The ministry should not allow incompetent teachers to continue teaching children without attending training sessions.

— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on Sept. 3, 2021.