Physical Strength and Athletic Ability Test: Shiga's middle school children exceed national average

This year's Physical Strength and Athletic Ability Test, an annual nation-wide test in which primary school children in the fifth grade and middle school children in the second year take part, demonstrates favorable results for Shiga Prefecture, due to the middle school boys and girls exceeding the national average scores.

Although Shiga's primary school children are still below the national average, progress can be found especially among the girls whose average scores this year are the highest in the recent five years, indicating that the measures taken by the Prefectural Board of Education and schools are on the right track.

The average scores of Shiga's primary school children turned out to be much lower than the national average in 2009, and the Board of Education started examining possible measures after that, leading to the programs initiated in 2011 such as a campaign  encouraging the students to exercise 30 minutes a day. Thanks to this, the number of students who like sports is increasing. "We see a positive effect in our programs," says an official in charge.

(Chunichi Shimbun, December 2, 2014)



Tablet computers will be provided for all elementary schools in Kusatsu

Kusatsu City is to provide approximately 3,200 tablet computers for all of the 13 elementary schools, including special support classes at 6 junior high schools. The Kusatsu City Board of Education allocated 56 million yen for FY 2014 as the costs for renting the tablets.

According to the plan, while 10 tablets per school will be used for special needs education, 35 tablets will be assigned for every three classes at the elementary schools, making it possible for every 2.3 students to use one tablet in two lessons per day.

45 tablets, including 10 tablets provided for special support classes, were introduced at Shibukawa Elementary School in FY 2013 as a pilot project. As a result, 94.3% of the students said that the classes with the tablets were easy to understand, and positive effects associated with concentration and learning capabilities were observed among special support classes.

The tablets are expected to cover all the subjects, interlocking with electronic blackboards also used to enhance a learning effect.

"With this, we aim at enhancing their thinking power and discernment," says an official of the City Board of Education.

(Chunichi Shimbun, February 18, 2014)



Fishing competition targeted at invasive species in Lake Biwa

A fishing competition, hosted by Shiga Prefectural Government, was held at Otsu Port on July 21, aimed at reducing invasive species in Lake Biwa. With 820 participants, invasive species such as black bass and bluegill were captured, which weighed 115.5 kilogram in total.

The competition also intends to do publicity on "Biwako Rule," a local ordinance which requests fishers not to release invasive species again once they catch them. In line with this policy, a sampling party was held at the venue, showcasing watermelons that grew with a fertilizer made of processed invasive fish.

Furthermore, as the Prefecture conducts "Biwako Rule for Kids," a campaign encouraging children to catch invasive fish by August 31, its registration desk was set up at the venue. The registration is still open until the number of participants exceeds 1000.

(Chunichi Shimbun, July 21, 2013)



Prefectural Board of Education to enhance students' internet literacy

The Shiga Prefectural Board of Education unveiled its policy on October 2 to create more time for students to learn about the internet, which is expected to enhance students' internet literacy. The recent case of slanders spreading on the internet, triggered by the suicide of a 14-year-old boy bullied at junior high school in Otsu, has urged the Board to take measures against human rights abuse in cyberspace.

"We will enhance education by letting students know how important identifying reliable information is," answered Superintendent Satoshi Kawahara when asked about the policy at a Prefectural Assembly session.

According to an annual survey conducted by the Board, there were 219 bullying cases reported at public schools in FY 2011. 19 cases of those were done by computers or cell phones.

"In cyberspace, anyone can be either a victim or a bully because the internet is highly accessible. We will teach youngsters about it thoroughly," says an official of the Board of Education.

(October 3, 2012, Yomiuri Shimbun)



Ritsumeikan University's new dormitory for international students unveiled

Ritsumeikan University, aiming at accepting more international students, completed the construction of a new dormitory for them located in Matsugaoka, Otsu, which is in the proximity of the Biwako-Kusatsu Campus (BKC). A ceremony for the completion was held on September 6, where the new facility was unveiled for invited guests.

The new dormitory, named BKC International House, is a 5-story building, and has a total floor space of 4,480 square meters. One of the characteristics of the building is that there are staffs stationed on each floor to support the students. The dormitory, in addition, has a study room, and an open space where the students have opportunities to mingle with local residents. 

According to the university, 45 students from 20 countries/regions including Bangladesh, France, and Vietnam are expected to live in the dormitory with 7 staffs. The university is planning to accept 4,000 students from overseas as of 2020, and sees the facility as infrastructure necessary to achieve the goal.

"With this dormitory as the starting-point, we will have more international students from now on. I hope we will help local communities understand the value of cultural exchange and will gain support from them," says Chairman of the Board of Trustees Nagata ToyoOmi.

(Chunichi Shimbun, September 8, 2012)



Kusatsu: Declaration of Anti-Bullying adopted

Opening ceremonies for the second school term were held at 19 elementary and junior high schools in Kusatsu, Shiga, on August 27, adopting Declaration of Anti-Bullying together. This initiative was inspired by the recent incident that occurred at a junior high school in Otsu, where a student, bullied by his classmates, committed suicide.

At every ceremony, each principal addressed the students, referring to slogans such as "we will never let bullying happen" and "we will protect those who are bullied." After the ceremonies, a document titled "Things you can do to eradicate bullying" was distributed to all the students, and they were informed of contact address of counselors as well.

From now on, all the schools will proceed with prevention and early detection of bullying, in accordance with Action Plan for Anti-Bullying each school formulated.

(Asahi Shimbun, August 28, 2012)



Omi High School: a list of X-ray photos of 245 students was lost

It turned out that the Kinki Kenko Kanri Center, an inspection institution located in Otsu, had lost a list of X-ray photos of 245 students of Omi High School, sources say. 

The medical examination was conducted on April 10, and the Center reported to the Hikone-based private high school on April 26 about the fact that the Center had lost the list.   

There is a possibility that a staff member of the institution mistakenly disposed of the list that matched the photos. As abnormal symptoms were not found among the students, the school decided not to redo medical examination, for fear of exposure to X-rays affecting their health badly.

"We recognize this case as a serious mistake. We will take necessary measures to prevent the same problem from happening," commented a contact person of the Center.

(Sankei Shmbun, May 8, 2012)



Shiga Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum opened

The Shiga Prefectural Memorial Museum, a center for war and peace education located in Higashiomi, opened on March 17, drawing approximately 1,000 citizens who ranged from elementary school students to war-bereaved families.

Governor Kada attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony with other participants such as Director Nobuyuki Hata and Shiga Bereaved Families Association President Takayuki Matsui, followed by a memorial tree-planting ceremony in which Michio Fujii, who lost his brother in war, took part as well as junior high school students.

The Prefecture had former Aito Branch of Higashiomi City Office renovated to use the building as the museum, where more than 25,000 written materials and recorded oral evidence are featured. The archive, arranged based on the perspective of ordinary citizens having experienced the frontline and air raids, handles Japan's modern warfare from Manchurian Incident (1931) to Pacific War (1941-1945).

(Kyoto Shmbun, March 17, 2012)

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A Harie-based volunteer organization won a Prize for Excellence at the 7th Ecotourism Awards

The Harie Shozunosato Committe, a volunteer organization known for offering eco tours in Harie, Takashima, won a Prize for Excellence at the 7th Ecotourism Awards sponsored by Ministry of the Environment (MOE). The awarding ceremony will be held at the MOE on January 25 next year. 

Ecotourism is an alternative form of tourism intended to balance the preservation and the economic development of local resources such as nature, history, and culture. This year the awards are categorized into Grand Prix (1 award winner), Prize for Excellence (3 award winners), and so on.

The Committee's activities, aimed at showing tourists unique kabata culture as virtual museum, was highly recognized. A kabata uses spring water, carp, and streams to bring fresh water into homes. The tours offered involve visiting kabatas, interacting with local residents and enjoying local cuisine. "Our activities to let people know our satoyama and traditional culture blessed with rich water resources contribute to the preservation of the environment," says Takehiko Minobe, president of the organization.

(Mainichi Shimbun, December 22, 2011)

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Superintendent of Education says disaster drills should include radiation-related measures

In regard to the Fukushima Power Plant where radioactive materials have been emitted, Shiga Prefecture's Superintendent of Education at a press conference expressed his desire to enhance the disaster drills conducted at junior high schools and high schools. Superintendent Fumihiko Suematsu says, "We have been conducting drills and training on the basis that earthquakes and fire may occur in the near future, but we haven't taken radioactivity into consideration," referring to the possibility of reforming the contents of the disaster drills.

Each school's principal is currently responsible for conducting the drills. The Prefectural Board of Education hadn't made a request to the schools for the reformation entailing the introduction of radiation-related measures by the time the press conference was held.

(Chunichi Shimbun, May 20, 2011) 

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