Japanese Govt to Lend Internet Routers to Families: To Support Online Learning During School Closures

The Japanese government will lend router equipment to families in order to ensure that they have high-speed Internet access suitable for home-based online learning. As school closures continue amidst the spread of the coronavirus, the government wants to prevent a situation where some children may not have equal access to distance learning because of their family’s financial circumstances. At the same time, the policy to provide “one device to each child” in some elementary and junior high grades throughout the country is also being advanced.

The funds for these initiatives will be included in the 200 billion yen emergency economic package that the Cabinet is expected to decide on April 7th.

Prolonged school closures are likely to continue across the country. Public elementary and junior high schools in 21 of Tokyo’s 23 wards, for example, will not re-open until after the end of the Golden Week holidays, at the beginning of May. Once funds are made available, municipal authorities will set up a system for schools to lend routers to low-income families and to help them set up high-speed Internet access for their children. The goal is to narrow the gap between students of different income levels, as online learning becomes more and more important.

In the next three years, Japan will also roll out a “GIGA School Initiative,” which aims to provide a computer or tablet to each student in 5th and 6th grade (of elementary school) and to first-year junior high school students. With the emergency economic package expected to be passed this month, authorities will likely be able to provide devices to other school grades, as well, and to complete the “GIGA School Initiative” ahead of schedule.

Source: Mainichi newspaper, April 5, 2020 (in Japanese)

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