Language Schools, or eikaiwa, are designed not to reward the experienced or trained teacher. There is little encouragement, or incentive, to become qualified or to improve skills. If anything, higher management likes to keep teachers easy to dispose of.
Within the university and high school systems, some teachers do go on to establish positions where they are able to enjoy some professional satisfaction, and have the time and funds to involve themselves in professional development. Despite this the majority of positions are not tenured, with many posts being limited to a maximum of three or four years. There is also an underclass of part-timers, hijokin, who must cobble together hours here and there to make a decent salary. Most are left without proper insurances or any security.
With a growing number of foreign nationals remaining longer in Japan, establishing families and community links, there is more need than ever for us to demand better working conditions. As the income generator for these companies and schools, we have the right to expect secure jobs, better futures.
ECC Foreign Language Institute – a microcosm
Union members at ECC have taken up the issue, demanding that ECC provide opportunities for foreign nationals to access the permanent employment track that Japanese nationals can avail. Negotiations have been going on for a long time. Rather than continuing to pay lip service to the idea of equality, expectations are high that ECC will implement a policy that assures job security, and career development for foreign nationals. Read an opinion piece by one ECC teacher at our website. ECC – call for change.