朝日新聞デジタル for school

2018年11月19日(月)

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VOX POPULI, VOX DEI/天声人語





■Income gap equals gap in educational opportunities:

When I interviewed a Finnish entrepreneur who had quit his job at a big company to start his own business, I asked him a really stupid question.

As he told me that he had 10 children, I asked, “Aren’t you worried about how you will pay for their educational expenses if your business fails?” He just looked puzzled.

People in Finland don’t have to pay any money for education up to the university level. University students even receive state subsidies to finance their living expenses.

All expectant mothers in Finland are given by the government what is called the “maternity package,” a box containing all kinds of items necessary for the baby, including bodysuits and a snowsuit.

The notion that children should be taken care of by society as a whole is firmly established in the country.

What reminded me of Finland’s generous public support to children and their education was an estimate quoted in a news story that annual tuition for national universities could rise to 930,000 yen ($7,700) in 16 years.

In the early 1980s, the figure was less than 200,000 yen. But that was a long time ago.

Even when the high tax burdens borne by Finnish people are considered, the difference between Finland and Japan in the government’s financial aid for the well-being of the young is still staggering.

It has long been pointed out that income disparities are creating a serious opportunity gap in education in Japan.

While 62 percent of high school students whose parents have an annual income of more than 10 million yen go on to attend a university, only 31 percent of their counterparts of families with an annual income of 4 million yen or less do so, according to one survey.

A child’s academic achievement seems to be affected significantly also by whether the parents can afford to pay the tuition for private junior high schools and “juku” preparatory schools.

“There are many (Japanese) children who can make a greater contribution to society if only they are given opportunities to receive higher education,” says Yumiko Watanabe, head of Kids’ Door, a nonprofit organization. “Isn’t that a big waste of human resources?”

That’s why Watanabe’s organization provides learning support to help students pass entrance exams for high schools and universities. University students and working adults teach them as volunteers.

The Japanese government should start providing a “package” for children containing educational opportunities, support for parents in financial trouble and free scholarships.

The program would, of course, cost a lot. But this kind of giveaway of taxpayer money is not bad.

--The Asahi Shimbun, Dec. 13

     


 いかにも愚問であった。北欧フィンランドで大企業を辞めて会社を起こした人への取材中。子どもが10人いるというので、「事業に失敗したら教育費はどうしよう、と心配になりませんか」とたずねた。向こうはきょとんとしている▼かの国では教育は大学まですべて無料、大学生の生活費まで出るのだ。出産の時には「育児小包」なる箱が届いて、肌着から防寒着までそろう。子どもは社会で面倒を見るとの考え方が確立している▼そんな話を思い出したのは、国立大学の授業料が16年後に年93万円まで値上がりするかも、との試算を紙面で読んだからだ。20万円もしなかった1980年代初めは遠い昔。北欧の高い税負担を割り引いても、彼我の差にため息が出る▼我が国で所得格差が教育格差に転じていると言われて久しい。4年制大学の進学率は親の年収が1千万円を超えると62%なのに、400万円以下では31%にとどまるとの調査もある。私立中学や塾に行かせられるか否かも大きいのだろう▼「教育を受ければ、もっと社会に貢献できる子がいる。もったいなくないでしょうか」と、NPO法人キッズドア理事長の渡辺由美子さんは言う。高校や大学の受験に向けて学習支援をしているのはそのためだ。学生や社会人がボランティアで教える▼日本でも、子どもたちへの「小包」が要る。詰めるのは、学ぶ場、困難を抱える親への支援、無償の奨学金などか。もちろん、お金はかかる。でも、そんなバラマキなら悪くない。

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 英文記事は、前日までの朝日新聞記事をベースに編集した海外読者向けの「Asia & Japan Watch(AJW)」の記事です。完全な対訳とは限りません。
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