As Japan is witnessing a rise in coronavirus cases, schools in Tokyo could remain closed until May after reports of local authorities planning to re-open emerged. While Japan has been able to rein in on the rate of coronavirus cases, the report of mass infection at a welfare facility in Chiba Prefecture raised concerns. The new outbreak has amplified the call for declaring a state of emergency which will authorise the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to order closures of schools and other educational institutions.
On March 13, the Japanese Parliament approved a bill to give the Prime Minister emergency powers to take drastic measures in the wake coronavirus crisis. The amended bill has enabled Japan’s PM to close schools and cancel large gatherings in order to contain and mitigate the risk of COVID-19.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held a meeting of the Novel Coronavirus Response at the Prime Minister’s Office on March 28 where he said that the number of cases is increasing in the urban areas and there is a rise in the number of cases whose route of transmission is unknown, indicating at community transmission. Japan closed public schools at the request of Abe but the threat of community transmission could lead to the declaration of a state of emergency will allow him issue orders for similar action.
The pandemic has caused a major disruption in education and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) said that nationwide closures are affecting over 1.5 billion students across the world.
UNESCO said that education is a fundamental human right and it will take alternative measures to ensure the continuity for learners despite closures and lockdown. UNESCO has launched the Global Education Coalition and is inviting expressions of interest from organizations interested in joining COVID-19 response in the field of education.
The UN agency said that it is supporting countries in their efforts to mitigate the immediate impact of closures, especially the disadvantaged communities who lack the facility to avail digital and remote learning. The Coalition has multilateral partners including the World Health Organisation (WHO), UNICEF, International Labour Organisation (ILO), and World Food Programme (WFP).
(Image credit: AP)