Some students in Fukushima have returned to schools on the edges of the evacuation zone. A school in Tamura reopened even though few families have returned. Students are given an hour bus ride into the area that was formerly part of the evacuation zone to attend school each day. There have been considerable disputes about the reopening of Tamura after it was discovered that the radiation levels were still high and the government had doctored reports to make the area look safe.
So why would any parent send their kid to a school an hour away in what should still be part of the evacuation zone? It may be due to the way the schools were structured after the disaster. As towns evacuated most set up a school within a school in the towns they evacuated to. The evacuated school would keep their own structure, classrooms and students but operate out of school run by the town hosting the evacuees.
If the evacuated school moves back to the town it came from yet the families stayed in the host community they would have to change schools for the student to continue attending at the building in the host town. There could also be residency requirements, if this transfer option was unavailable to parents they could have no option but to send a student to a school in the evacuation zone areas. Even if transfers are allowed it means taking a child away from friends and familiar teachers from their community. Options of private schools are likely financially out of the reach of many evacuated families that have had their income and finances disrupted by the disaster.
Some students in the region have taken up a unique offer to attend school far from Fukushima, leaving their families behind. The program was started by a doctor who had done research in the regions around Chernobyl and understood the risks at hand.
image credit | AP
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