TOKYO: Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry plans to set up a subsidy program in fiscal 2020 aimed at fully exempting local governments and public schools from costs for the trial introduction of digital teaching materials that work on personal computers, informed sources have told Jiji Press.
The program will cover expenses for computer settings and teacher training when business operators provide such materials to schools on a test basis for free, informed sources said.
Small operators can use the subsidy program to cover two-thirds of related costs. The rate will be 50 percent in cases where major operators with past delivery records will jointly offer digital materials, the sources said.
The government's fiscal 2019 draft supplementary budget has earmarked one billion yen for the program.
By fully exempting local governments and schools from related costs, the ministry wants them to first experience the effects of digital teaching materials and later introduce them in earnest, the sources said.
The government's recently compiled economic stimulus package includes making a PC available to every student at elementary and junior high schools by fiscal 2023.
Digital teaching materials, utilizing information and communications technologies and artificial intelligence, are expected to allow students to learn based on their proficiency levels, as well as to boost learning efficiency and promote work style reforms for teachers.
The subsidy program derives from the fact that many digital teaching material providers are small or midsize startups and would face difficulties offering such materials for free.
The ministry plans to hold workshops giving experiences of digital teaching materials to local government workers and teachers who are interested in such materials but do not know how to use them, according to the sources.
It aims to hold such sessions in all 47 prefectures of the country by the end of March 2021. Successful examples of introducing digital materials will be shown at the meetings.