Support program for the affected schools of Fukushima Prefecture

The Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami and the Fukushima Daiichi accident damaged some school buildings in Fukushima Prefecture. Some schools are located within the evacuation order area and the students and teachers are having classes in temporary school buildings in the locations where they evacuated to. Some school buildings were not damaged by the disaster itself but the students’ homes were damaged or are located within the evacuation area and those students are studying at schools in areas they evacuated to. Aimed at helping them enjoy their school lives and alleviate their stress or fear, this support program for the affected schools was started. Based on requests from the affected schools, the Fukushima Chapter provides various programs which are appropriate for the pupils and students, including concerts, dramas, movies and hands-on workshops.

Data


The support program began to be provided from October 2012. The program was provided also in FY 2015. The table below shows the number of the activities provided.

School FY 2012 FY 2013 FY 2014 FY 2015
Elementary schools 1 11 16 14
Junior high schools 9 12 9
High schools 4 8 7 9
Schools for handicapped children 2 2 2
Others 3 2 1 1

For the venues and programs provided in each year, please click on the link below.
Venues (Maps) [PDF]

FY 2012
The support program started in October 2012 when the Fukushima Chapter assisted a joint cultural festival which was held by three high schools in the affected area.
FY 2013
From FY 2013, the support began to be provided to each affected elementary school, junior high school, high school and special school for handicapped children.
FY 2014
In FY 2014, more support activities were provided than each of the previous two years.
FY 2015
In FY 2015, 35 activities in total were provided.

Comments from the supported schools


The Fukushima Chapter received comments from students and teachers of Odaka Industrial High School, Kawauchi Elementary School, Kawauchi Junior High School, Naraha Junior High School, Namie Elementary School and Tsushima Elementary School. These schools were part of the schools that the Fukushima Chapter had provided the support program in FY 2015.
Comments and messages from beneficiary schools [PDF]

Comment by Fukushima Chapter staff


Soon after the earthquake, most of the affected schools had difficulties in securing enough financial resources for school programs such as appreciation of arts. The children’s living environments drastically changed due to their evacuation and they were experiencing an inconvenient lifestyle. The purpose of this support program is to help the children relax and release their stress. The program also aims to help them to enjoy their school lives more by appreciating arts such as music and dramas.

In 2012, we started a pilot program. From 2013, we distributed questionnaires to the schools about their requests in advance and then fully started the support program. The programs were provided in 32 venues. In FY 2014, we provided the support in 38 venues.

The support program was new to the JRCS. Therefore, we asked each board of education of the affected municipalities to check the content of the questionnaires and programs. Since the Agency of Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan, has a lot of experience in supporting schools, the agency also cooperated in our activities.

Some schools were forced to evacuate due to the Fukushima Daiichi accident. The tsunami crippled the buildings and facilities of some schools. Each situation differed depending on how the school was affected. Now four years after the disaster, some schools have reopened classes in their original locations. However, some children go to schools from the temporary housing or locations where they evacuated to. The children in lower grades of elementary school do not remember the disaster. If the evacuation order which was issued to their hometowns is lifted and they have to return to their homes there, it may impose another stress on the children because it would mean that they have to move to a new school from the current school which they are familiar with. Some school teachers said to us that they were concerned about that. The teachers may also be stressed because they told us that their schools are still sometimes asked to receive media coverage or offered assistance and they need to take time to respond to each of them.

When we surveyed the affected schools about their needs for assistance in FY 2013, some schools declined our offer by saying: “We cannot include any more school events for this academic year*, because the school schedule was already finalized at the end of December.” Based on this regrettable experience, we began our preparations early for the next academic year. Later, this resulted in requests for assistance from many schools. Through the experience for this program, we have built a relationship with the schools, the Agency for Cultural Affairs and art performance groups and accumulated the knowhow for preparations and simple negotiations. Furthermore, the artists and performance groups understood the purpose of our support program better. Now we appreciate the proverb “Persistence pays off.”

* The Japanese academic year begins in April and ends in March.