Integration of Kindergarten and Daycare Centers for Children
From gKazenoko Letterh No.389 - June 2010

@There is a movement within politics to integrate kindergarten and daycare centers for children. In Japan, institutions for children of preschool age are divided into kindergarten and daycare centers. Kindergarten are managed by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, and daycare centers for children are managed by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. Therefore, laws for kindergarten and daycare centers are different, and each have their own structure and content.

@Mantaro Kido, an educator at Hosei University, advocated the gintegration of kindergarten and daycare centers for childrenh prior to the second world war. It is ridiculous for children of preschool age to be raised in separate places. Children who live in the same area should be raised in one institution. In order to do this, the government should conduct one gMinistry of Childrenh. This statement produced a big reaction across the country and raised sympathy for persons involved in the field of childcare.

@Since then, sensible people have conceived a plan to integrate kindergarten and daycare centers for children, and have continued to demand a revision in government systems. But this movement basically came to an end 20 years ago. This was because the power of kindergarten was overwhelmingly stronger than that of daycare centers. Since World War II, there has been constant confrontations, and it could be said that the social value of daycare centers was lower than that of kindergarten. In fact, the percentage of children at kindergarten was 65% whilst daycare centers had 35%.

@However, the golden days for kindergarten began to decline in the beginning of the 1990fs. With increasingly low birth rates, the percentage between kindergarten and daycare centers reversed a couple of years ago, with 40% for kindergarten and 60% for daycare centers. The gap between them will continue to widen. Real life issues such as the reduction of waiting lists for daycare centers and kindergarten management issues have entered the realm of politics. This appears as the gintegration of kindergarten and daycare centers for childrenh.

@The gintegration of kindergarten and daycare centers for childrenh prior to the second world war had one founding principal and one ideal. However, the idea of integrating kindergarten and daycare centers for children seems to be born from half measures. The government will propose a bill in a year or two. If so, this could cause great disorder.

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