ALT Dispatch and Outsourcing – What do Japanese Teachers think?

Do Japanese teachers in public schools know what dispatch (haken) and subcontracting (gyoumuitaku) mean for foreign ALTs’working conditions? How do they think ALT dispatch and outsourcing will affect the quality of English education?

To find out, we interviewed “A Sensei”(name withheld), who has been teaching English at public high schools in Aichi Prefecture for over 20 years. Who employs the ALT at your school? The ALT is directly employed by Aichi Prefecture Board of Education.* ALTs and Japanese teachers (JLTs) cooperate to “team teach” English in public schools. How does this “team teaching” work in practice? The ALT and the JLT plan the lesson together beforehand; in the classroom the ALT takes the lead role with the JLT assisting. The Aichi Board of Education employs 26 ALTs directly and obtains 14 more from through subcontracting. Do you think that subcontracting has any advantages for English education? No, I can’t see any advantages in subcontracting, because a subcontract ALT can’t plan lessons together with the JLT. Dispatch and subcontract ALTs may be on low salaries (as low as approximately 180,000 yen a month) and face poor working conditions (no social insurance, no unemployment insurance). In addition, some of them are told by their company that they cannot have any paid holidays. What do you think about these conditions? It is difficult to teach well when working under such poor conditions. I just cannot believe how bad these conditions are. Japanese school teachers don’t know about this situation.Perhaps it would be a good idea to inform the public about it. If people are required to work without getting any paid holidays, it’s a violation of the Labour Standards Law, isn’t it? Many dispatch companies do not arrange an annual health exam for the teachers it employs. What do you think about this situation? The health exam is important not only for teachers but also for students. If an ALT came down with a disease, there would be a risk that he or she would pass it on to the students. Even Japanese part-time teachers have to have the health exam. Do you think that the Aichi Prefecture Board of Education should continue to use subcontract ALTs? No, the Board should employ them directly. The better their working conditions, the better they will be able to teach. * The Board is planning to cease employing ALTs directly in April 2010 and obtain them all from a dispatch company instead.

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