40% of school boards test English of new recruits

Focusing on efforts to employ [Japanese] teachers with a high degree of English proficiency, the Saitama prefectural government set up a special application category on its academic 2009 recruitment exam for prospective [Japanese] teachers with English qualifications– such as a Grade Pre-1 on the Eiken English proficiency test. Applicants in the category are exempted from a portion of the recruitment exam.

Last year, 17 applicants passed in the category–with this figure accounting for only 2 percent of more than 700 successful examinees.

Commenting on the current situation, a prefectural education official in charge of the exams said it was a problem that “many [Japanese] primary school teachers aren’t familiar with English.” The official added, “It’s an urgent task for us to hire [Japanese] teachers who could play a leading role [in English teaching at each school].”