The JET Programme here actually has its own BBS, and it looks like the news that the boondoggle is within the Renho Commission’s sites has been out there for a couple of weeks.
Comments from the Commission, as picked up on the BBS:
A quickie Google/Yahoo translate:
● The overseas offices are abolished all. [We] check the Japan Exchange and Teaching from the system fundamentally.
● The Japan Exchange and Teaching should abolish ALT (assistant language teacher) today that passed for 23 years.
● JET does not require an office abroad.
● Mechanism is not changed at all after 23 years. JET is positioned too vague.
A later poster gave the link
to the source material, which has moved here, so there are some subtleties in the study. But the basic point is that–no matter how long “cultural and language exchanges” have been going on in Japan (25 years, 70 years)–no one has critically reviewed the JET Program in 23 years.
Some of the posters make a free market argument, pointing out that the ALT Dispatch companies are underbidding the JET program, and–as a result–many Boards of Education are switching to the private dispatch companies. Others put out the theory that the numerous talented JET applicants who are rejected by JET can, with some effort, make their way to Japan via the private company route—and so therefore the JET program really won’t be able to sustain itself as any unique thing in the long term. “Here, Board of Education. You can have the minted JET at 5 or 6 million a year, or the JET reject for 3 million a year (500,000 to the dispatch company).”
Only in Japan could you have such screwball circumstances take root and go on and on. This must have been what the Edo Era was like.
The problem is the Japanese Government (having wasted 23 years) should seriously look at how English language instruction is delivered to the young people of Japan. What works, what doesn’t. Obviously things that are really a political boondoggle like JET need to be reformed. But they really also need to look at whether revolving door ALTs make much sense, too.
The revolving door ALT scheme grew out of JET. Some enterprising people saw a way to make money out of mimicking a government program—much the way these English Conversation Circle businesses adopted the model of nonprofit conversation circles (from the 1980’s), and began running businesses out of Tokyo’s community centers.
Nobody in the government ever bothers to look at these things, and you also see from the JET BBS board that any number of posters feel it’s just another day, and the government won’t make any changes in the future.