Education in Japan (Natalie Collar)
In the age of technological developments, the use and sales of paper books are declining rapidly due to advances in digital media. Not only are digital copies of popular novels and magazines selling more than paper versions, but they can also be accessed from various devices and provide larger text for readers with vision impairment. Along with these reading materials, school textbooks are also becoming available in electronic versions.
The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT) of Japan has recently considered the use of digital textbooks in schools across the country. In its final report on this issue, MEXT mapped out a plan to integrate digital textbooks into classrooms to help students with visual impairments as well as those with hearing problems. MEXT plans for schools to make use of both paper and digital textbooks starting in 2020 after it outlines national guidelines for their use. The digital textbooks will likely supplement a specific part of the lesson or chapter in the paper textbooks. As for the education of students with disabilities, the organization believes they ought to take measures to ensure the digital textbooks are used in a proactive way.
Although the specific details of this change will not be settled for a couple of years, it is likely that elementary, middle, and even high schools will have similar guidelines for using digital content. In Japan, high school is not mandatory, so students are responsible for the expenses of textbooks and other electronic equipment. The incorporation of digital textbooks in a looser fashion was considered for high school curriculum, but the opinions expressed at public forums supported by the schools and the board of education opted to treat students in high school the same as students in middle and elementary schools.
- 日本経済新聞(電子版)「デジタル教科書『積極利用を』文科省会議」, 2016/11/30. http://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXLASDG30HEB_Q6A131C1CR8000/
- 時事ドットコム(電子版)「高校も紙と併用で=デジタル教科書で最終報告―文科省会議」, 2016/11/30. http://www.jiji.com/jc/article?k=2016113000728&g=soc