By Professor Hirona Matayoshi – Yokohama National University The Educational Policy Shift From “Digital Inclusion” to “Political Exclusion”
Schooling in times of Covid-19 has had a clear shift from “Digital Inclusion” to “Political Exclusion” here in Japan. To equip people with skills for today's digital workplace is easy, universities succeeded with on-line education just like the Ministry of Education (MEXT) ordered. The problem now is academic economics. Japan's Ministry of Education made a "Policy U-turn" to return to the traditional face-to-face classes in universities here in Japan. Although, knowing the new "Corona Virus variant" is more infectious, the Ministry of Education has ordered all universities to return right back to face-to-face classes even though the infection rate is sky - rocketing for the new year of 2021.
On January 2nd, 2021 three mayors from three prefectures have just pleaded with the government for three hours to reinstate the national state of emergency due to the clear resurgence of 4,520 new cases for the new year that will reach 5,000 by next week. Unfortunately, they were left behind, again.
The role of "business as usual" is to make sure that no one is left behind. Unfortunately, there will be those who are left behind.
On January 16, 2021, this year, Japan will have their annual university entrance exams. This means every high school student, in the country applying for university, will travel throughout Japan to take their exam in a variety of universities to cluster in each of the institutions. We professors have been ordered to wear face guards and masks for the exams that we need to proctor while acknowledging our sacrifice for every minute we stand not knowing when we will fall. Professors who will proctor the exam will be above 50 years old, we and our future students are endangered species. Moreover, some universities are medical universities and their personnel are precious to sustain life in hospitals. Unfortunately, their professors and future prodigies are also at stake. This means chances of clusters, originating throughout the country occurring through commuting to the universities, staying at hotels, and taking the test contributing to the spread of the pandemic will be inevitable.
After the entrance exams for each university in Japan, the universities will call the student body back to school for traditional face-to-face classes. The excuse is simple. "The students are young and even if they contract the disease they will survive", is what the ministry says leaving them behind. What about the teachers above 50? Will they survive or will they be hooked up to a ventilator or tourniquet, in sacrifice, just like the former transport minister, Yuichiro Hata, secretary-general for the Upper House who fell victim to Covid-19, he was young at 53 years old. The one's left behind in a mass sacrifice for the "youthful campus-life experience" for our beloved future prodigies who might even enter the ministry of education someday. The academic economics is behind this sacrifice. Professors all over the country will follow orders since we signed up for this as educators. Although, some of us will be left behind.
Schooling in times of Covid-19 has had a clear shift from letting no one behind by using “Digital Inclusion”, as ordered, to letting those behind by “Returning Back to Traditional Face to Face”, as ordered, building an unfortunate chasm between good intentions to take the initiative as the real three leaders from three prefectures compared to those who have every intention to sacrifice someone behind by resisting calls for travel restrictions and business closures, here in Japan.
Covid -19 has shown the world how sick the system can be.
Professor Hirona Matayoshi
Yokohama National University
Japan Universities Asked To Give More Face to Face Classes https://sp.m.jiji.com/english/show/8646
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