Sapporo Dispatch Disaster – Nova, Interac & Sapporo City Board of Education all to Blame

Up to 65 ALTs in Sapporo have been left to hang out and dry. They are now scrambling to try and put together a plan of how to get through the next few weeks as the full details of the disaster unfolds.

Just a month ago, re-contracting ALTs suddenly discovered that Interac had lost the contract with Sapporo City Board of Education. While upsetting, many - if not the majority of ALTs - were able to slide over to the new contractor - NOVA Holdings. While there was relief, there was also anger. NOVA was paying even less money than Interac had been. There would be no salary at all for a month in the summer and winter periods. At least Interac paid a partial salary during these periods. In addition to this, there would also be fewer paid annual leave days, as the "new" NOVA ALTs were back to zero with their length of service.

So why did the contract go to NOVA so quickly? While contracts are regularly won and lost, this situation happened at the end of March, was very last-minute, and was quite unexpected. It is only speculation, but there is likely a link between this development and the revelations of Interac's "cash-for-favors" bribery of the politician, Endo Toshiaki. The Endo scandal was unfolding in parliament and the press, right at the time the contract was to be re-signed.

However, Interac losing the contract to NOVA in the eleventh hour, and the fallout from that situation, is not the most recent NOVA disaster - there were also hints that NOVA was having problems. To fulfil all the ALT positions, NOVA seemed desperate, and was actually transferring regular teachers from Kansai and other areas up to Sapporo; but that wasn't enough, and NOVA failed to fill all of the 65 positions required as part of its contract with the Sapporo Board of Education.

The Sapporo Board of Education decided it had enough.

Just yesterday (April 21), after sitting through their final day of training with NOVA, ALTs were given a piece of news before they finished for the day: NOVA had been kicked out of Sapporo!

It was like a punch to the gut for ALTs.

For some, things will work out, they will simply be transferred home by NOVA. Others may be offered jobs in other parts of the country... but what about those who have established their lives in Hokkaido? They are left in a state of limbo.

Will the Board of Education take responsibility and hire people directly? Will yet another dispatch company take over? Will the program be cancelled for the year? And let's not forget the other victims in all of this - the students and the schools. We will be seeking answers.



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