30% of high school teachers notice students financially in trouble

December 24, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo

On December 23, a questionnaire carried out by the Ryukyu Shimpo and the Prefectural High School and Handicapped People’s School Teacher’s and Staff Union revealed that 28.9% of high school teachers and staff had noticed some students could not bring their own lunch or money for lunch to school. Further, 68.5% of teachers and staff also noticed there are students who cannot pay for educational materials or school fees. Teachers and staff answered that some students help with family expenses by working part-time. More than 90% of teachers replied that a family’s financial power affects the student’s academic performance. The survey shows the situation for children in poverty whose families do not have a stable livelihood and cannot guarantee even the minimum level learning environment.

The Teacher’s and Staff Union stressed the need for taking countermeasures and stated that schools have a limited capacity to support students and need to work together with external support institutions and specialists.

The students’ economic situation survey answered by teachers and staff was carried out from November 19 to December and targeted about 4,800 teachers and staff of 81 prefectural high schools and handicapped people’s schools (part-time, correspondence, and branch campus are counted separately). A total of 930 teachers and staff from 58 schools answered the questionnaire. (The collection rate was 19.4%.) The union had conducted a similar survey in 2010 (437 people replied; handicapped people’s schools were not included). They compared and analyzed both results.

Among teachers and staff, 28.9% (handicapped people’s schools were not included) answered “Yes” to the presence of students who did not bring lunch. This was 11.1% more than five years ago. And 68.5% of teachers and staff, including handicapped peoples’ schools, confirmed the presence of students who could not pay tuition fees, which has increased from the previous survey (61.3%). Meanwhile, answers that denied the presence of such students decreased from the earlier study (28.1%).

Nine out of 34 schools replied that five to 10% of students (two to four students in a class) work part-time to help a family. Six full-time high schools and one part-time high school answered that they had 25 to 30% (10 to 12 students in a class) of such students. Three full-time schools answered they had 30 to 40% (12 to 16 students).

To the question “Do you feel there has been an increase of students who have financial issues at home over the past five years?” 75.4% answered yes.

More than 50% of teachers and staff replied that they do not know a contact point for students in financial hardship. More than 60% (except handicapped people’s schools) answered that they noticed the increase of students who gave up on going to college for financial reasons.

In the free comments section, one of the teachers wrote, “Some of the students quit school because they were unable to pay the bus fare.” Another wrote, “Some of the students are too tired from part-time jobs to focus on studying.”

(English translation by T&CT and Megumi Chibana) 

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