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【Zenkyo Statement】April 7, 2016
♦Creating a new “Scholarship Program”
Zenkyo strongly insists that the government establish a benefit plan scholarship program and that all present ‘scholarships’ be free of interest.
【This is the summary of the statement issued on April 7】
Today, 98.5% of students get into high school and 79.8% into colleges and universities in Japan. The free access not only to the middle education but also to the higher education is an international pledge. However, public spending on higher education in Japan is the lowest among OECD countries, and parents are obliged to have the heavy financial burden due to the high educational cost. To make the matters worse, average annual income of parents itself has decreased by more than 520 thousand yen (about 5 thousand dollars) in the past 17 years and the annual amount of remittance from parents has lowered by more than 340 thousand yen (about 3.4 thousand dollars). Under this situation, more students have to work as a part-time. On one hand, more students make use of a ‘scholarship’ program. On the other hand, many have given up even applying for it because of the heavy repayment obligation. Actually, Japanese ‘scholarship’ is in disguise, and it is more like a student loan.
On March 24, MEXT unveiled the first draft proposal on establishing “a new scholarship program linked with the income.” A new program plans to be introduced from this 3rd year students in high schools. As we mentioned above, Japanese scholarship is actually a student loan. There are two types of ‘scholarships’: without interest and with interest. While we appreciate the point of removing parents’ income restriction in applying for interest free ‘scholarship’, this proposal is far from our strong desire to establish a benefit plan scholarship.
In this proposal, unlike the present program, the repayment at the amount of at least 2000 yen per month will be imposed even on the person with no income. And the repayment moratorium will be set 10 years at maximum. We strongly demand to remove this maximum period for the person with an annual income of less than 3,000,000 yen in this new program. Moreover, we request that like the system in the U.K., which has its exemption thirty years after the start of repayment, Japan should introduce such a system.
In guarantee system, many students choose guarantor system. In case students are unable to pay it back, guarantors, mostly their parents, have its obligation. However, in this new plan these obligation will be expanded even to their spouse after they get married.
In this proposal, the creation of full-fledged scholarship program will be postponed as one of the future challenges due to a financial reason. However, on March 29, being pushed by public opinions, Prime Minister Abe announced reluctantly to set up the non-refundable scholarship without mentioning any financial sources or target standards. We strongly demand the realization of true scholarship with government’s responsibility because Japan is the only country in OECD which has no benefit scholarships nor free access to universities.
Zenkyo will fight together with students, parents, teachers, and local residents in order that all students are guaranteed the rights to study and have sound growth, and strongly demand the establishment of the benefit scholarships and also all interest-free type “scholarship” covered the interest by national treasure contributions.
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