Grade, junior high schools reopen after 6-year hiatus in Odaka, Naraha

Elementary and junior high schools opened classes on April 6 in their original buildings in the Odaka district of Minamisoma city and in Naraha town for the first time in six years since being relocated following the 2011 earthquake and subsequent nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi plant. The number of students attending the schools is 129 in Odaka and 105 in Naraha, representing 70-80% of those at relocated schools the previous school year that ended in March 2017. Both municipalities expect to boost motivation for learning by providing education featuring greater characteristics than ever. But the student numbers in both of them account for only some 10% of those before the disaster. Municipal authorities are looking for ways to establish a better educational environment and restore the number of students. The city and town authorities are seeking to recover the number of students by offering characteristic education and assistance. But they face an uphill battle, with the number of newly enrolled students left at extremely low levels, among other difficulties. Behind the plight is believed to lie the fact that children of many evacuee families have established their school life in their present living places. But children’s education is an important matter that decides the future of regional communities. Both municipalities are poised to place priority on improving measures that will help evacuee families better understand the benefit of educating their children in their hometowns. (Translated by Kyodo News)