Gov’t picks 39 groups for free language lessons for needy foreigners

The education ministry has picked 39 groups and organizations across the country to hold free Japanese-language classes for foreign children who cannot afford to attend international schools due to financial difficulties, ministry officials said Monday.

The groups, including nonprofit organizations, in 14 prefectures will hold a total of 42 Japanese-language classes at local community centers and other public facilities in fiscal 2010 from next month with the aim of helping such children go to public schools where tuition is much cheaper.

The state will provide 20 million yen to each of the organizations named by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

The program was launched as part of the ministry’s efforts to extend language support for students who have been hit hard by the economic downturn, including Brazilians of Japanese ancestry, between fiscal 2009 and 2011. In fiscal 2009, 32 organizations were picked for 34 classes.