Tama pushes learning support project
Aiming to help reduce child poverty


For children who cannot afford to attend cram schools or preparatory schools for economic reasons, more and more municipalities are conducting activities such as learning support. One of such projects is “Tama Study Support” (TSS), which has been carried out since two years ago by Tama city, in western Tokyo, which is located near Chuo University. These activities are aimed to resolve “child poverty” whose real picture is hardly visible by appearance.

Child poverty often comes in families who live below subsistence level. The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare defines poverty children as ones aged 17 or younger who live in “relative poverty households” whose annual take-home income is less than 1,225,000 yen (about 11,000 dollars). The relative poverty rate, which shows the percentage of such children, was 14.9% for Japan, according to a survey published in 2012 by the International Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Japan’s rate was the ninth highest among the 53 advanced countries covered by the survey.

According to a national livelihood survey conducted by the ministry in 2016, one in seven children was in poverty, with the rate rising to one in two for single-parent households. Those children barely have food and clothing, and have to give up their high school and university education. They cannot even attend cram schools or preps.

Tama and other municipalities have initiated their learning support projects for children after the law on independence support for the needy went into force in 2015. The law encourages municipalities to provide support to needy persons before they are distressed to apply for public livelihood allowances. It urges them to offer various forms of assistance to needy households including ones who already receive financial aid for school attendance. Under this system, each municipality sets up a consultation service desk in its office and prepares detailed support plans in accordance with the conditions of individual households.

The Tama municipal office carries out its TSS in cooperation with an outside cram school. University students mainly teach English and mathematics to junior and senior school students who are apt to be left behind in learning due to family circumstances. A second-grade senior high school girl student who learns at TSS told Hakumon Herald, “This scheme is very much helpful because teachers help me prepare for the regular exams at my school and English proficiency tests.” According to the Tama city office, its support project is exclusively targeted at junior and high school students of single-parent households and households whose annual income is equal to ones who receive aid for school attendance.

 (Written by: Yoshikazu Kazamoto)






 (風本 祥一)




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