NOVA To Abandon Discriminatory “Native Speakers Only” Policy

Aug 18, 2016


Note: This article was translated from Japanese.

After the bankruptcy and widely-publicized failed of NOVA Group in October 2007, the current NOVA (NOVA Holdings) was built from the ashes of its predecessor upon the condition of “succession of contracts with students, teachers, and staff and with the approval of the Osaka District Court and the creditor (General Union).

As of 2016, NOVA has expanded its operations, and is now conducting business nationwide with chains such as NOVA Ekimae School, GEOS, EC Eikaiwa, Itto Tutoring School, Ganbaru Gakuen, TOPS, Miyabi Tutoring School, Sumire Tutoring School, NOVA Tutoring School, and so on.

Suffice to say, with so many holdings, NOVA has to employ a lot of foreigners to keep its business empire running.


In spring this year, the collapse of the fake bidding for dispatch, and the subsequent conflicts among Sapporo Board of Education, Interac, and NOVA, was widely reported upon.

In the aftermath of this fiasco, the General Union demanded that NOVA re-employ more than 100 ALTs victimized in this scandal, and pay them compensation for the time that they (through no fault of their own) had been prevented from working.

We did this successfully.

However, during this process, NOVA excluded a number of excellent teachers from South-east Asia from re-employment. Upon investigation, we found that NOVA was using a discriminative “native speakers only” condition (for employment) in their company rules.

In light of this, NOVA Headquarters and the General Union checked the article in regards to the situation.

The General Union negotiated with NOVA with the objective of having them abandon such a discriminatory article.

In following, NOVA sent us the letter dated July 18th, 2016 shown below:

July 18th, 2016

To : General Union
Masaki Inayoshi, President and Chief Executive Director
NOVA Holdings Co., Ltc.

“Native” shall not be a condition of the employment of a teacher.

One of the conditions shall be “a person whose mother tongue is English.”

We will do our best to make it common knowledge among employees concerned, and instruct them to follow it.

The meaning of “native speaker” is ambiguous, especially as this word is often used to only refer to “Western” or “White” people in regards to eikaiwa businesses in Japan.

As one might imagine, it can often be a dangerous word that leads to people being unfairly overlooked because they are not “white” or “American” enough to adhere to a desired stereotype.

Via the removal of this article, NOVA will open up employment to people from places such as the Philippines, India, Hong Kong, Singapore, and so on, where English is a mother tongue.

Building upon this advance, the General Union will keep checking to ensure that teachers for English education will continue to be employed regardless of race, nationality, or how well they fit the “image” that a company wants to portray.

It is highly possible that similar discrimination exists in other language teaching companies.

The General Union will keep investigating all of them to continue to expose such problems.