Kyushu’s public elementary, middle and high schools are changing unreasonable school rules, after the region’s seven prefectures and major cities issued notices and guidelines for public schools to do so.
Kumamoto City has made student participation in establishing and changing school rules compulsory under its school management regulations for municipal elementary, middle and high schools.
Saga and Nagasaki prefectures have also asked their schools to review their regulations that require students to wear white underwear, prompting them to do the review. But because principals have the power to set school rules, experts say the school board should educate teachers first.
In May, Kumamoto – the only city with such guidelines – also compiled a list of exam questions and answers and set the following standards for schools:
- Establish a system in which students think and decide for themselves.
- Establish necessary and reasonable rules.
- Publicize school rules.
Some schools in Japan have rules prohibiting students from dyeing their black hair brown or having a perm, as these are sometimes considered a sign of delinquency. If their hair is naturally brown or curly, for example, these schools require students to prove it by submitting a photo of themselves from infancy. Then they would need to get permission from the school so they wouldn’t have to have their hair dyed black or straightened. Kumamoto City has specifically told schools that these rules should be changed.
Schools have also been urged to revise rules that do not respect gender diversity, such as separate uniform requirements for boys and girls. And the city has called for school rules to be made public on each school’s website, so parents and residents can monitor them.
In the last fiscal year, which ended in March 2021, Saga Prefecture conducted a survey of the rules in the 51 prefectural high schools, of which 14 schools had removed the rule requiring students to wear white underwear. . Drinking and smoking provisions were also abolished in 16 out of 19 schools, as they were prohibited by law in the first place.
In Nagasaki Prefecture, 60% of 237 public high schools and prefectural high schools had specified white as the color of underwear in a survey, prompting the prefectural board of education to issue a notice requesting a review.
To encourage schools to change, Fukuoka Prefecture decided to conduct a pre-triennial survey of prefectural high school school rules every year based on this exercise.
After being encouraged by the prefectural authorities, high schools run by Oita Prefecture organized a discussion forum between teachers and students before July. In the city of Kitakyushu, the association of secondary school principals is taking the initiative to revise school rules to ensure that they meet contemporary expectations.
In June, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology informed prefectural boards of education that they needed to review school rules based on changes in the society and time. In October, the Japan Youth Council (JYC), a group of students and workers who formulate political proposals, created guidelines for the revision of school rules on the assumption that their objectives would not be to bind students but guarantee their freedom and human rights, by publishing the guidelines on its website.
Ryo Uchida, an associate professor of educational sociology at Nagoya University and one of the JYC guidelines committee members, expressed concern that stricter school rules might be implemented. during revisions or that the opinions of the students would be stifled by the teachers.
According to the Fukuoka Bar Association, there have been cases in schools in Fukuoka City where teachers have blocked students’ discussions of school rules.
“First, principals and teachers should discuss school rules that respect the Constitution and the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” Uchida said. “The school board should encourage them to do that.”
Hitoshi Kawasaki, 48, is one of the authors of “School Regulations Reform”, published in December, which outlines efforts to change school rules. He also encourages schools to revise their regulations, saying this leads to greater satisfaction with school life among students, parents and teachers.
“In the past, it took a lot of time for teachers to teach students about school rules,” said Kawasaki, who also teaches at Asagiri Middle School in Akashi City, Hyogo Prefecture.
If there was a possibility that a student’s hairstyle was against the rules, a teacher would take the student’s photo and four teachers would then determine whether it was a violation or not. If the haircut was found to be in violation, parents would be asked to ensure the student had a haircut. But in some cases, these requests were not well received, which contributed to a deterioration of the relationship.
When Kawasaki proposed revising school rules at his school, some teachers were concerned and questioned who would take responsibility when students became delinquents.
A School Rules Review Committee was then set up, in January last year, to consider the pros and cons of approximately 100 questions and opinions from a survey of students and their parents.
What the committee emphasized is that the rules should be based on logical reasons and for educational purposes, but they should also not be established by majority vote alone.
They deliberated whether to specify white as the color of shoes and socks, and whether to allow students any hairstyle they wanted.
Following discussion of each item, the Kawasaki school eliminated shoe color rules and allowed black, navy, and gray socks in addition to white. Separate hairstyle rules for boys and girls were also eliminated, and undercuts and French braid hairstyles were allowed.
The whole process took a little over two months. In some other schools, however, student councils had to ask teachers for revisions first, and then the teachers made a decision.
“Reviewing school rules that don’t fit the times is something teachers should consider first,” Kawasaki said. “It is the role of teachers to set up a review system.”
This section presents Kyushu area topics and issues covered by the Nishinippon Shimbun, Kyushu’s largest daily newspaper. The original articles were published on December 28.
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children, education, Fukuoka, Kumamoto, schools, elementary schools, high schools, Saga, Nishinippon Shimbun, students, Oita, middle schools, MEXT