JAPAN | 14,000 Fukushima children change schools in wake of quake, nuclear crisis

Posted on August 9, 2011

0


JAPAN | MAINICHI | 9 August 2011

Teachers see children onto a bus after the end of lessons at Oguni Elementary School in Date, Fukushima Prefecture, on June 30. The school has instructed children to wear masks, hats and long sleeves to protect them from radioactive materials. (Mainichi)

Some 14,000 children who attended public elementary and junior high schools in Fukushima Prefecture before the Great East Japan earthquake, tsunami and ensuing nuclear crisis have since changed schools or will change schools during the summer holiday, it has been learned.

A survey by the Fukushima Prefectural Board of Education found that 1,081 students are due to move out of the prefecture during the current summer holiday. Fears about radiation were cited in three-quarters of these cases. After the outbreak of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, many students moved out of evacuation zones within a 30 kilometer radius of the plant, but there are reportedly now more children moving out of nonrestricted areas of central Fukushima Prefecture.

Education board officials said that as of July 15, 7,672 students had moved out of the prefecture in the wake of the disaster, while about 4,500 students had moved to other schools in the prefecture. A total of 755 plan to move to other schools within Fukushima Prefecture during the summer holidays, in addition to the 1,081 who are due to move outside the prefecture.

“There are probably many people who decided to wait until the end of the first term to switch schools, considering the burden on their children,” a prefectural education board representative commented.

Figures from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology show that about 165,000 students were enrolled at public elementary or junior high schools in Fukushima Prefecture as of May 1 this year. About one-tenth of these students were forced to switch schools in the wake of the disaster. Including students at private schools, high school students and young children who have not yet started school, the number of “evacuated” minors is even higher.

Since the outbreak of the ongoing nuclear crisis, many schools within a 30 kilometer radius of the stricken nuclear plant have been holding lessons in the buildings of other schools. Analysis by the prefectural board of education found that over half of the 12,000 or so students who had moved schools as of July 15 were originally attending schools located within 30 kilometers of the nuclear power plant. The latest survey was conducted in line with the end of the first term of the school year.

In this photo taken July 26, 2011, playground equipment stands in front of Karino Elementary School, which was used as an evacuation shelter in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture. (AP Photo)

In this photo taken July 26, 2011, playground equipment stands in front of Karino Elementary School, which was used as an evacuation shelter in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture. (AP Photo)

Meanwhile, about half of the students due to transfer to other schools within Fukushima Prefecture during the summer holidays cited a move to a temporary housing unit or another accommodation facility as the reason.

There were also cases in the prefectural city of Soma in which children returned to their homes from places to which they had earlier evacuated.

Advertisements
Posted in: JAPAN