In October 2014, the eight elementary school Assistant English Teachers (AETs), all from Takatsuki’s sister city of Toowoomba, were told that the AET program would be suspended for fiscal year 2015. This appeared to be a direct result of their demands for their rights under Japanese law to be recognised, in particular they sought the right to be recognised as workers with the corresponding benefits, and the constitutionally guaranteed right to choose their own accommodation. As a result all eight AETs, and the AET supervisor, lost their jobs. This came with strict assurances that the English education of Takatsuki elementary students would not suffer, and that expert teachers would be brought in to replace the AETs.
As evidenced by an advertisement on the popular job seeker website Gaijinpot, Takatsuki city intends to outsource English education to dispatch company Citystaff. The advertisement, published in April this year, makes no mention of teaching qualifications as the Takatsuki City Board of Education assured. Without these qualifications, and without the guidance of a qualified supervisor, it seems impossible to believe that English education could continue without a drastic fall in quality.
Reports have now surfaced that Takatsuki City’s efforts to replace the AETs is in shambles, with students in some schools receiving no native speaker instruction. A member of the PTA at one school has revealed that no English classes have yet been taught, that English education is absent from the Annual Event Chart, and that the teachers do not know the future of English education in their own classes.
A source from another school has revealed that English lessons in that school began last week, a full month after they would ordinarily start. The lessons were reportedly a disaster, with the new AET lacking both expertise and the training required to perform well in the role.
Takatsuki City continues to fail its students. With such mismanagement continuing unabated, Takatsuki City must take responsibility for the mess they have created, and fix it.