JET Programme on the chopping block?

Steven Horowitz, founder of JetWit.com, brings us this important message about the uncertain future of the JET Programme. It seems that the JET Programme is in danger of being cut back or even eliminated. Please read and let’s discuss what we can do!

Important message:

In case you haven’t heard, the JET Program and JETAA are on the chopping block.

The Japanese government is in budget cutting mode and poised to make major cuts and changes to the JET Program. To learn more, read Jim Gannon’s piece on JetWit.com (which I asked him to write after having lunch with him the other day and getting his well-informed explanation as to what’s going on in Japan):

JET ROI: “JET on the Chopping Block”
http://jetwit.com/wordpress/2010/07/03/jet-roi-jet-program-on-the-chopping-block-by-james-gannon/

It doesn’t have to proceed as currently planned, however. Perhaps the biggest challenge faced is that Japanese taxpayers and Japanese budget cutters have a very limited understanding of all of the ways that JETs and JET alumni have provided significant economic, diplomatic and other benefits to Japan. As far as they know, we just taught a little English and drank a lot of beer. If you’ve been a member of this group for a while or a JetWit reader, however, you know there’s a heck of a lot more going on.

There’s an army of JET alum translators/interpreters. There are JET alums who have written books, made films, written for Japanese and Japan-related publications. There are JET alums working for Japanese companies, in Consulates, in Japan-America Societies. JET alums who have started new businesses that increase Japan’s business with the rest of the world. Tour guides. JET alums in politics and influential government positions. Manga/anime distributors. New York Yankee translators. And I’m just scratching the surface.

It’s up to the JET alumni community to make its voice heard and make the case. So if you have a good example or way of demonstrating Japan’s return on investment, feel free to submit it to JetWit (via me). Or if you have a good idea for a way to gather other examples and help the cause, let me know and I can post a request on JetWit (i.e., crowd-sourcing).

My hope is that JetWit can serve as a clearing house for info and ideas to get picked up by JETAA Chapters and JET alums and used by Japanese govt officials who need help making the case as well as by journalists and media in need of additional information about the benefits accruing from Japan’s investment in the JET Program.

Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.

Steven Horowitz (Aichi-ken, 1992-94)
stevenwaseda (at) jetwit (dot) com

14 thoughts on “JET Programme on the chopping block?

  1. Josh said: “Just look at the website gaijinpot and you’ll even find the occasional full time ALT job for under 200,000 a month.”
    If that is a private full time position being offered by a BOE, I would be tempted to take it. On top of health care, and the possibility of cheap teacher housing, you’d get two bonus’s a year and end up making AT LEAST the same as a JET alt.

    Also, don’t forget JET is not mainly about teaching English. This is a huge point the 事業分わけ people ignored. Japanese Exchange and Teaching – including CIRs (not just from English speaking countries) and SEAs, who are few, but awesome. JET plays a crucial role in exposing Japan, especially their youth, to different cultures and perceptions of PEOPLE; this is a rare and precious opportunity in a country with barely more than 1% foreign population, and the majority of them coming from the same corner of the globe.

  2. oh, and i was really excited to sign the petition until i realized “Change.org” requires i submit all of my private contact info. Good luck getting signatures that way…

  3. @Alys: You are right, there are some really good private dispatch companies, but many others unfortunately don’t think about the ALTs. The ALTs that I knew often had very good experiences if they were able to get hired directly by a BOE, rather than with a dispatch. Another thing I found was that for ALTs who wanted to stay in Japan long term, but were with dispatch companies they had to move yearly or at least every two years because contract situations changed so often, or because they were looking for a company that provided a better situation, and this is a disservice to the students. I think I inaccurately generalized in my comment above. Some dispatch companies do hire from a pool of people within Japan, including ex-JETs, and while the quality of those teachers is better than those who are brought straight into Japan from abroad, many of the same issues exits (illegal contracts, low pay, lack of support). Of course, there are some great companies out there (my husband used to work for a really good one that hired experienced ALTs and really supported them), but from what I have seen in Japan the companies like that are far fewer.

    @beck: You only need to put in the info you feel comfortable. While the form on the front page asks your for everything, I believe it is not required information. I did not put in my address for the same concerns you have.

  4. @greg

    Housing? Bonuses? Health Care? Oh Greg. You’ve been on JET too long. You’ll be hard pressed to find any company or BOE offering those to an ALT.

    Plus Health Care…. ha. The usual “scam” that is run on ALTs is that on paper they only work 20-30 hours a week, which means that the BOE or Dispatch company doesn’t need to pay for any health care.

    In my case, and from what I heard many other ALT cases, the English half of my contract said I was working 40 hours a week. The Japanese half said I was only working 20, even though I was told I HAD to be at school more than eight hours a day. As with all dual language contracts in Japan the Japanese half is the only half that counts.

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