Japan's education ministry is considering providing information on the coronavirus in multiple languages by email to unauthorized schools for foreigners, an official said Saturday.
The plan is part of preparations for a possible cluster of infections as schools not licensed by Japanese authorities could be left out from various forms of official support.
The ministry will seek help from embassies and support groups for foreigners to create a list of unauthorized schools and send information deemed necessary to them in multiple languages, including English and Portuguese, according to the official.
The government has not grasped the exact number of unauthorized schools for foreigners in Japan.
According to a 2019 survey conducted by the ministry, there were 124,000 foreign children aged between six and 15 in Japan and as many as 19,000 were believed to have stayed out of schooling.
Some of the 19,000 children might be receiving education through unauthorized schools, but the details remain unknown.
The ministry aims to use collected data beyond its response to the virus in the future to improve education support for foreign children, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
As of March 2019, there were 126 authorized foreign schools in Japan, according to the ministry, which provided face masks to them as part of steps to protect children and teachers from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus. Such schools are eligible to receive subsidies of local governments in some cases as well.
But those not authorized, which apparently exist in all sizes across Japan, remain outside the scope of aid since it is unknown where they are or how many children attend them. It is said some children are taught privately in small groups in apartment rooms.
In the central Japan city of Hamamatsu, there are three schools catering for the Brazilian community of some 9,000, with one remaining unregistered and thus unable to receive Shizuoka Prefecture's subsidies.
The city provides up to 10,000 yen to each foreign family with students to cover expenses for textbooks, regardless of which school they attend.
Toyota, another central Japan city in Aichi Prefecture, supports two unlicensed Brazilian schools to conduct disaster drills and health checkups, in addition to assistance on precautions against the virus.
Noting that translating virus-related information is time-consuming work, a Toyota city official said, "If the government actively gets involved in the process, it will become easier for us to work together (with such schools)."© KYODO