On December 3rd and 4th, the Winter 2012 Opinion Exchange meeting was held in Tokyo. This is a biannual meeting between National AJET, the Council for Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR), the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). The discussion topics reported and presented at this meeting were: the Utilisation of Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) in the Workplace, JET Programme Participants’ Relationships with Their Contracting Organisations, and Volunteering on the JET Programme.
Utilisation of ALTs in the Workplace
This report surveyed the current utilization of ALTs in elementary, junior high, and senior high schools, in order to identify trends in the team-teaching structure at all school levels, common contributions and barriers to various workplace involvement, and other important trends related to the changing role of the ALT in the classroom. You can read the report here and the discussion summary here.
JET Programme Participants’ Relationships with Their Contracting Organisations
Contracting organisations, as employers, play a defining role in JET participants’ personal and professional experiences. As such, this report studied current participants’ interactions with their contracting organisations in order to define a more productive working relationship built on successful mutual expectations, support, and communication practices. You can read the report here and the discussion summary here.
Volunteering on the JET Programme
Based on current and past JET participants’ experiences, this report sought to provide a clearer understanding of the kinds of volunteering activities in which participants engage. The report established that volunteering is widely practiced activity among the JET community, both in Japan and abroad, and its continued support and promotion further develops the internationalisation aim of the Programme. You can read the report here and the discussion summary here.
In addition to the presentation and discussion of the above reports, there was also a time set aside for open discussion regarding the current and future state of the JET Programme. In this discussion the following conclusions were reached:
- CLAIR asked National AJET for aspects of the JET Programme and its participants which make it unique and appealing to contracting organisations; National AJET acknowledged the value of international exchange, community involvement, selection processes and criteria, and JET participants’ direct involvement in their workplaces and communities which has become a part of the JET Programme and its reputation and recommended that CLAIR emphasize these benefits to contracting organisations.
- MEXT and National AJET discussed ways in which National AJET could be more involved in future education projects designed for ALTs as these endeavours would be a great benefit for all ALTs at job trainings and seminars as well as in the workplace.
- Regarding future improvements of the JET Programme, CLAIR reiterated their interest in improving and increasing completion rates for the CLAIR TEFL Grant programme, as well as the language courses, and would like to consider ways for addressing these issues in the future. National AJET agreed to provide these responses and assessments on behalf of JETs and extended the invitation to continue this dialogue throughout the year.
- Materials at Tokyo Orientation were also discussed, with CLAIR stating an interest in National AJET’s suggestion for making these materials, including presentations notes, videos or slides, more available after orientation in a format online or in other media.
- With regards to the future AJET report topic on the role of CIRs in the programme, CLAIR requested information on how CIRs are being progressively utilised in different and inventive ways, with the aim of providing information to contracting organisations regarding the benefits, work, and integration of CIRs in local communities and workplaces. National AJET will take these points into consideration for the next Opinion Exchange meeting.
- On a final note, CLAIR asked National AJET for assistance in reminding participants of the importance in adhering to national laws and local regulations regarding behaviours and actions both in the workplace and in personal life, particularly with regards to the possession and/or use of illegal or controlled substances. Such actions have serious consequences not only for the individual who fails to observe the law or these regulations, but also have far wider reaching consequences which damage the reputation of the JET Programme and that of the JET participant’s home country. It is important that all JET participants do their part and abide by these laws and regulations at all times.