SNC History (from Chairwoman Tomoko Takemura)

■□Year 2003-2009□■ Until the Establishment of SNC

 Before starting SNC, I was the chief Japanese language instructor at a Japanese language school called Kumamoto YMCA in Kumamoto City. There, we often received inquiries from parents, school administrators, and boards of education from all over the prefecture. Such as, "A child has been in Japan for one year, but he is having trouble understanding Japanese. Is there anyone who can teach the child Japanese?"

 In fact, at that time, only Kumamoto City and Kikuyo Town offered Japanese language instruction for students, and other cities, towns, and villages did not have any support for students. In addition, there were several Japanese language schools in Kumamoto City, like the YMCA, but all of them required students to be at least 18 years old to be accepted.

 However, I could not just turn away children who did not understand Japanese and were in need of help, so I decided to have children from cities, towns, and villages nearby stay at my home every weekend and those from far away stay at my home for a month and a half during summer vacation and other times to teach them Japanese. Over the past 10 years, more than a dozen children have stayed at my home. By providing them with a certain amount of initial Japanese language instruction for a certain period of time, they were able to understand their school classes, and most of the children I taught were able to go on to university.

 On the other hand, it is not right that only children who happen to transfer to a municipality that has a supportive environment or who happen to meet me can receive Japanese language instruction, while other children are left in a situation where they are hindered from going on to higher education or working, without any instruction. I have come to strongly believe that all children who transfer to Kumamoto Prefecture should be able to receive Japanese language instruction.

■□May 2009□■ Establishing "Kumamoto Support Network for Children from Abroad"

 Despite being deeply concerned about the environment at that time, I felt that what I could do alone was limited, so I proposed to Ms. Iwatani and Mr. Yamabe, who were working with me together to hold "Career Guidance *1" at that time, to create an association for children from foreign countries.

 Ms. Iwatani has been involved in the Kumamoto City Japanese Language Teaching Center since its establishment and has been teaching Japanese as a Japanese language instructor while also establishing the "Kayuukai Japanese Class *2 " in the community. Mr. Yamabe had been involved in Japanese language instruction as a full-time instructor at Kurokami Elementary School and had just retired that year after obtaining his Japanese language teacher certification. Both were veterans who had been involved in Japanese language education for children for many years.

■□May 2009-September 2013□■ From the Establishment of SNC Until Now

 In May 2009, "Kumamoto Support Network for Children from Abroad" was established.
 The Japanese language support was renamed "Kumamoto Kodomo no Nihongo" (Kumamoto Children's Nihongo), and the activities of "Career Guidance for Returnees and Foreign Students" (Representative Iwatani) and "Foreign Students Exchange Meeting" (Representative Takemura), which had already been held several times at that time, were integrated to form the three main activities: 1) Japanese language support, 2) activities to guarantee students' career paths, and 3) friendship building.
 In 2009 and 2010, we were commissioned by the "Kumamoto Prefecture Project for Creating a Multicultural Society".

 However, at the time of its inception, we had no idea how to approach the children from other countries who had been admitted into the prefecture, even though we had received information from all over the prefecture.
 Even if we contacted the board of education directly, few of them were willing to listen to us, and even if they did, they say things like "We don't have the budget", "We're going to hire volunteers so we don't need them", "We hired a support person who understands the students' native language". They did not understand the expertise and importance of initial Japanese language instruction and did not take the initiative to dispatch instructors.

Free Japanese Language Instruction

 There are students who are having trouble understanding Japanese, but we cannot just do nothing because the local government does not have the budget to do so. Therefore, we have established a track record by lending teaching materials and dispatching coordinators free of charge to help people understand the expertise of Japanese language instruction.
 We provided free guidance as coordinators and instructors to Kikuchi City, Yashiro City, Uki City, Yamaga City, Oyano Town, Nagasu Town, Ozu Town, and Yamato Town. The duration of the program was six months in the shortest place and more than a year in the longest place. It was most effective to have the teachers on site see how the children actually learned Japanese.   
 We also went into junior high schools and nursery schools to appeal for the need to support double-limited *3 children, and into two prefectural high schools to appeal for Japanese language support for students who had entered high school, free of charge.

 As a result of these activities, many local governments have come to understand the importance of Japanese language support for double-limited children as well as initial Japanese language instruction immediately after their arrival in Japan.
 Furthermore, awareness of cross-cultural and multicultural understanding has increased, and workshops on various situations of children with foreign roots are now widely held, especially in elementary, junior high, and high schools.

Municipalities to Which We Have Dispatched Japanese Language Instructors

Kikuchi City, Kikuyo Town, Uki City, Uto City, Koshi City, Ozu Town, Yamaga City, Tamana City, Arao City, Hitoyoshi City, Misato Town, Gyokuto Town, Minamioguni Town, Minamiaso Village, Nishihara Village, Hikawa Town, Tsunagi Town, Mashiki Town, Yamato Town

*Municipalities that provide Japanese language instruction on their own: Kumamoto City, Yatsushiro City, Amakusa City

We will continue our activities until all children
who need Japanese language instruction are able to receive it,
no matter where they are enrolled in elementary, junior high, and high schools
in Kumamoto Prefecture!!!

NPO Kumamoto Support Network for Children from Abroad
Chairwoman Tomoko Takemura

October 2013

*1 Career Guidance
・・・Career guidance for foreign-rooted students and their parents. Held annually in July for Chinese returnee and foreigner students and their parents who are preparing for high school entrance exams.
*2 Kayuukai Japanese Class
・・・It served as a place for exchange between young second- and third-generation Chinese returnees, and to engage in a variety of activities, such as Japanese language study, camps, and exchange meetings (active from 1998 to 2014).
*3 Double-limited
・・・A person who was born and raised in Japan in a bilingual environment by parents whose native language is a foreign language, but who has not reached an age-appropriate level in both the native language and the second language. This is currently an issue of concern among educators.