Teachers oppose Nova ban on interaction with students

OSAKA. A teacher and a former teacher at the Osaka-based Nova foreign-language school have sought the Osaka Bar Association's help in protecting their human rights, saying that Nova Co's ban on personal interaction between teachers and students is discriminatory.

Robert Bisom, 59, a U.S. citizen, filed the plea together with a 46-year-old male Australian teacher who was fired by Nova, apparently for having a relationship with a student. The former teacher filed a suit with the Osaka District Court last December seeking to nullify his dismissal. According to the plea submitted to the Osaka Bar Association, Nova prohibits personal ties between students and teachers in its employment contract, and in the past has dismissed teachers for breaking the ban, including a teacher who became engaged to a student. Bisom and the Australian say that the provision in the contract amounts to racial discrimination since it applies only to foreigners. The same day, Bisom also asked for help from the Osaka Prefectural Labor Relations Commission, saying that Nova had treated him unfairly by failing to give him a pay hike because of his union activities. Yukitomo Ishimatsu, a Nova director, said Thursday that the provision in the contract banning interaction between students and teachers is "necessary to prevent trouble between foreign teachers and Japanese students who have different cultures." He said that it is a "distortion of facts" to say that all teachers who break the ban are dismissed. "I cannot believe that they are saying there is racial discrimination, when it is our policy only to employ foreigners as teachers," he said. The provision in the contract says, "The employee shall treat the clients of the employer in a professional manner at all times. Further, the employee shall not initiate, agree to or participate in any interaction with the clients of the employer outside the place of employment." Ishimatsu said that Nova will not allow personal interaction even if it takes place inside the school. "We operate schools, and our schools are no different from other schools. We cannot allow kissing or improper conduct," he said. (Kyodo News)


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