Ministry OKs forcing students to stand up, leave classroom as punishment
Tuesday, February 6, 2007 at 07:23 EST
TOKYO — Making students stand up during class or instructing them to leave classrooms for the purpose of maintaining order do not constitute legally-banned corporal punishments, the education ministry said Monday in a notice to boards of education across the country.
The notice came shortly after a government education reform panel recommended reviewing the scope of corporal punishment. Meanwhile, an official at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology said it does not intend to review the scope in the notice.
The notice bans as corporal punishment acts that inflict physical pain or violate the bodies of children, such as punching and kicking, but it tolerates as discipline acts such as making students stay in a classroom after school and assigning them more everyday tasks than usual.
While the notice bans in principle preventing students from entering a classroom because they are late for class or lazy with their studies, it allows teachers to give them instructions in place of an in-class lecture and to make them leave a classroom as a last resort in order to maintain order.
With regard to the suspension of students from school, the notice defines it as "not a form of discipline but a measure aimed at keeping order and guaranteeing the right of other students to education."
The notice calls on every school to consider suspension "without hesitation" if students with problematic behavior do not improve their attitude despite instructions from the school.
It also asks boards of education to support teachers and schools in such an event, so that the teachers and schools do not find themselves isolated when imposing a suspension.
The School Education Law bans physical punishment.
On Jan 24, the government panel, headed by Nobel Prize-winning chemist Ryoji Noyori, submitted to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe an interim report recommending a review of directives issued in the 1940s that banned physical punishment of students, so that teachers can control problematic behavior and curb bullying in schools.
Abe views education reform as the centerpiece of his policy agenda.