economy, kids, mainichi shinbun, news, research, statistics and data

Students hit hard by 2011 disasters suffer poverty, lose educational chances: survey, mainichi, 12/1/2015

original article: http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20151201/p2a/00m/0na/001000c

An organization providing educational support to children who were affected by the triple disasters of March 2011 released a report Nov. 30 indicating that households in which the father is either unemployed or is on short-term employment contracts have doubled compared to pre-disaster numbers.

Many students thus said they believe they will have to give up going to college or graduate school due to family finances.

The white paper, which investigated children’s poverty and gaps in educational environments and resources, was compiled by Chance for Children, a public interest incorporated association based in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, based on a survey it conducted from May to September 2014. The organization received responses from 2,338 households who were affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, to whom they have offered assistance. According to the organization, this marked the first time a survey of this scale was conducted regarding children’s educational circumstances in areas directly affected by such massive disasters.

The report showed that 13.1 percent of fathers in the surveyed disaster areas were either unemployed or short-term contract employees, about double the 6.3 percent recorded prior to March 2011. Conversely, regular employment suffered a drop of 9.4 percentage points, down to 78.5 percent. The percentage of households with a yearly income of less than 2.5 million yen jumped by 8.5 percentage points compared to pre-March 11, 2011 figures, to 36.9 percent.

Asked what their ideal educational trajectories were, 56.2 percent of third-year junior high school students who responded to the survey said they wanted to attend “university or more (graduate school).” However, asked what they believed was realistic, only 44.3 percent said “university or more (graduate school),” showing an 11.9-percentage point gap between ideal and realistic educational goals. Some 13.4 percent of students cited tight household finances as the main reason for this gap. In a similar survey taken of students and their parents in fiscal 2011, only 4.3 percent of students pointed to household finances as a factor in choosing realistic educational paths, illustrating a rise in the proportion of students being forced to choose “realistic” educational paths that run counter to their own wishes.

Meanwhile, a look at the income of households with junior high or high school students who have refused to go to school showed that the lower the income, the greater the likelihood that students refuse to attend school. Students coming from households with an annual income of less than 1 million yen accounted for 17.9 percent of students with a history of truancy. A greater number of students from low-income households also said that they felt they did not have a place where they felt safe, or that they had experienced suicidal tendencies.

“The effects of the 2011 disasters are seen not only in education, but also in everyday life and elsewhere, and their multiple causes — such as household finances and interpersonal relationships — are intertwined,” says Chance of Children’s representative director Yusuke Imai. “The central government, local governments and communities must collaborate to support students by expanding (non-loan) scholarships and institutionalizing a system of social workers specializing in children.”

About liz

from the u.s., recently moved from kobe to sendai, japan, researching community-based housing recovery after disaster.

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