Saitama Prefecture

Providing equal opportunities for all students to acquire the same level of knowledge by enhancing teaching materials and teacher training

Basic Information

  • Saitama’s sex education policies (public resources)
    • Heisei 29 Nendo Gakko Kenko Kyoiku Hikkei (“FY2019 School Health Education Handbook”; Available only in Japanese)
    • Shin – Naruhodo Hoken Gakushu (Heisei 27) (“New – I Understand Health Education (2017)”; Available only in Japanese)
  • Outline of the initiative
    • Training for teachers on best practices, the latest issues in the field of sex education, and the flow of classroom lessons.
    • Annual efforts to develop sex education policies based on feedback from teachers.

Background

  • In light of a push by the national Government to put more effort into sex education, in 2005 Saitama Prefecture launched the “Committee to Promote Sex Education Practice in Saitama Prefecture” (later renamed in 2017 as “Committee to Resolve Sex Education Issue in Saitama Prefecture”) (hereafter, the “Committee”). Current committee members include professors from the Faculty of Education at Saitama University (chairpersons), the principal of a local school (Vice Chairperson), three teachers each from a local elementary school, a local junior high school, and a local high school (one school nurse and two teachers of health and physical education), and administrative staff members from local governments.
  • The Committee works to propose lesson plans for sex education based on discussions with schools about their needs. The Committee conducts research on lessons, and Committee members test out lessons at their own schools. The Committee also holds workshops for teachers.

Overview of activities

  • Based on the ideal that all students have the right to learn correct information about sex, the Committee focuses its efforts on teachers.
  • The Committee keeps track of a network of Health Departments, etc. that schools can call upon if they want to have them come into classes to complement lessons based on the Courses of Study set out by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT).

■ Workshops for teachers who conduct sex education

Target ・Teachers of health and physical education, school nurses and health supervisors from elementary, junior high, and high schools. Approximately 500 people participate each year out of a target audience of 1,500 schools in Saitama Prefecture. Many of them are school nurses
Lecturer・Lecturers are selected based on advice from Committee members and experts
・Model lessons are conducted by Committee members to demonstrate best practices
Budget・Workshops are funded by MEXT as a designated school general health support project (funding has been secured through FY2017)
Frequency ・Once a year
Overview ・During workshops, local government staff members give opening remarks, followed by the introduction of model lessons (best practices), and a presentation from an external lecturer
・Each workshop has a theme based on MEXT’s Courses of Study. However, they may also provide detailed information on topics such as infertility and syphilis, which are problems in recent years
・To respond to the needs in the field, the results of the feedback questionnaire filled by participants are discussed by the Committee and incorporated into plans for future fiscal years. Many teachers have expressed opinions about the actual implementation of lessons (teaching methods and use of class time)
Special Features of the Workshops・The theme of the Workshop is examined and discussed every year to allow participants to learn the wide range of information necessary for their classes
・Lecturers teach about not only sex education lessons, but also offer hints on health education in general, in order to increase participant engagement in the Workshop

 The School Health Education Handbook

Target ・Teachers of health education at elementary, junior high, and high schools
Budget・Funded as a project of Saitama Prefecture
Frequency of Revisions・Once a year
Overview ・Discusses important points and philosophies related to school health education, the positioning of health education, the latest information on sex education topics, case studies, and so on. It has sections on sex education and AIDS education
・The Handbook also introduces other reference materials created by the National Government and Saitama Prefecture such as Shin – Naruhodo Hoken Gakushu (Heisei 27) (“New – I Understand Health Education (2017)”; Available only in Japanese), which is published by the Saitama Prefectural Board of Education and Saitama Prefectural School Health Council
・The Handbook is revised each year based on information from the “State of School Health Education Survey” on the utilization of the Handbook in schools, and opinions of the Handbook gathered during Workshops
Special Features of the Handbook・The Handbook aims to help teachers by providing specific lesson plans where possible
・Anyone can download the Handbook from the Saitama Prefecture website

Strengths of the Initiative

  • Extensive teaching materials
    • Saitama Prefecture creates teaching materials like the School Health Education Handbook every year, which presents a clear vision on health education and case examples. Saitama Prefecture made the decision to publish the Handbook on its website because there were many inquiries about it from the governments of other prefectures. (Comment from Prefectural Government)
  • Collaborations with other stakeholders
    • There is a close partnership with Health Departments. For example, a booklet published by the Wellness and Longevity Division was introduced at the Workshop one year when the theme was infertility, and utilized in a model lesson at a high school. (Comment from Prefectural Government)
    • Because a school nurse sits on the board of directors of Saitama Society of Maternal Health, its academic conferences always set aside time for presentations on health education. This is a valuable opportunity to communicate the actual situations at schools to academia. (Comment from Lecturer)

Current Issues of the Initiative

  • Medium- to long-term evaluation of activities
    • How should the impact of these initiatives on not only teachers, but also students, be evaluated? How should the mid- to long-term impacts be evaluated? (Comment from Prefectural Government)
  • Overflow of information on sexual health
    • Recently, information can be easily available through the internet, but not all of the information is correct. Some students follow this information without questioning it and act inappropriately. (Comment from a Lecturer)

Direction for Future Development

  • Continuation of activities
    • The Prefectural government will try to secure an independent budget to continue the initiative. (Comment from Prefectural Government)
  • Strengthening external lecturer dispatch support
    • Connections have been made with medical associations, associations of dentists, pharmacist associations, and midwife associations in Saitama Prefecture, but organized collaborations are not taking place. The Prefectural government hopes to create a system that will allow schools to find external lecturers easily, such as by creating a list of lecturer candidates. (Comment from Prefectural Government)

Expectations for other stakeholders

  • The National Government
    • The national Government should continue to send the message that “sex education is important.” (Comment from Prefectural Government)
    • The national Government should strengthen training for health education teachers, for example, by increasing the number of credits required at training institutions, including universities, so they can give appropriate guidance at schools. (Comment from Lecturer)
    • The national Government should make it easier to find reliable data that can be utilized in classrooms, such as nationwide survey results. (Comment from Lecturer)
  • To Health and Physical Education Teachers
    • Teachers should first correctly grasp the purpose and content of each lesson before teaching classes. (Comment from Lecturer)