Komori Gakko (Baby-sitter Schools) (子守学校)

Komori gakko is a term used to refer to schools made for children who were not able to attend ordinary schools because they had to baby-sit their own little brothers and sisters or other families' little chidren in the early Meiji period. There were about 320 public and private schools of this kind throughout Japan.

In those days, one of the school songs of the Ministry of Education, a children's song 'Akatonbo' (red dragonfly) illustrates, it was common for school age children of today to take care of younger children all day long.

In 1872, with 'the Education Order,' the Japanese Government launched the modern school system, but the enrollment rate didn't rise as they expected. The biggest reason was that the children, especially girls, were told by their parents to baby-sit their little brothers and sisters or other families' children at their workplaces, and that this burden prevented them from going to school. In 1880, Tokyo, Hokkaido and all the prefectures were ordered to establish baby-sitter schools in order to solve the problem, and in 1883, Kaju WATANABE opened the first baby-sitter school in Koyama-mura, Sashima-gun, Ibaraki Prefecture.

The little children brought by the girls were also provided with nursery education there. In 1884, the following year, he published the book "Komori Kyoiku Ho"-Methods for Educating Little baby-sitters (from Fukyu-sha Publishing, reprinted edition in 1977). After that, schools of this kind spread to 41 administrative divisions, and they continued to exist till the end of the Taisho period or the biginning of the Showa period.

The baby-sitter school in Ueda City, Nagano Prefecture has the longest history -50 years 1month. There is also an example like Kyoto College of Economics which started out as a private baby-sitter school, and transformed itself occasionally, and has existed till today.

When establishing a school was impossible, a class was formed. It was confirmed that there were such classes in 41 administrative divisions at the time.

Development into Night Schools and Nursery Schools
Baby-sitting children were from poor farming or fishing villages, and their parents didn't value education out of ignorance, and therefore in many cases, they didn't welcome baby-sitter schools. For that reason, in 1886, in Shimoge-gun, Oita Prefecture, a night school was organized for children who did baby-sitting during the day at the local elementary school and a rented house, because they were free from baby-sitting at night.

Baby-sitter schools didn't have staff to take care of the babies during class. There were no such arrangements at public schools, while private schools gradually started giving their attention to the matter. In 1890, in Niigata City, Atsutomi AKAZAWA and his wife, Nakako opened a nursery institution in affiliate with Niigata Seishu School.
(Its name was changed into Shuko Fudoku Yochiji Hogokai in 1908.)
It was the first nursery school in Japan.

Baby-sitter schools were established under the special circumstances with the socio-economic background. They have unique significance in the Japanese history of education as the ones which encouraged the birth of night schools and nursery schools.

[Original Japanese]