(junior high school teacher)2017


  It was toward the end of July, during the summer vacation.

  The female teacher, expecting a baby soon, stood on the school field, where the sun shone strongly and quite hot. She had coached her school club there for 4 hours every day, even on the last month of pregnancy.

 Of course she had no offs on weekends, all of which were filled with club practices or games. She just continued working for students.

 Actually the club made good results every year, so the parents expected the club to do well on the year, too.



  She often confessed, “I’m tired.”

  Some parents said to her, “Are you OK?” “It must be tough for you, expecting a baby.” However, when she reduced practices, some claimed, “True you are suffering, but this is the last year for my boy, so please don’t reduce practices,” “You should ask other teachers to see our boys practice if you take offs.”

 The principal, who repeated, “You look suffering, so please take care of yourself,” did nothing more.



  “Please take rests. How about asking the principal to take the club? I’m afraid you may fall down,” I said to her several times. But she answered smiling, “I did my best in my school club/bukatsu when I was a student, so I must repay. Coaching school clubs is hard, but very important for the students.”

 Although I myself grew up in the area where bukatsu was not so popular, she grew up in the bukatsu culture. So she could not deny bukatsu, which I believe is illegal for teachers and improper for students.

 She believed in bukatsu and kept on standing on the school field under harsh sunshine and heat.




  One day, the tragedy happened.

  “I feel ill so I’m going to a hospital,” she said after the club practice on the day and went ... she did not come back to school for three months.

  Her baby had died inside, in the ninth month of pregnancy. She still had to be delivered. When she said to me, “The pains of dead-childbirth was just a hell,” I could not say anything.

(※Supplement: Can overworking cause a stillbirth?)



  She is an excellent teacher, so the school without her went confused. She had had too many tasks for the rest of us to make up for them. However, I was told to take on them although I was a freshman teacher. I had already had a homeroom and not a few tasks then.

 All I got was the words “You can do,” I took on almost everything. Of course, she had left nothing for me to take, so I just worked desperately.

  A document to the authority must be finished in two weeks! ...But no help. I worked till 10pm on weekdays and coached my school club on weekends.

  I got a fever again and again because of lasting lack of sleep and fatigue, but I got put on a drip at a hospital(at night!) and went back to school next morning.

  Sometimes I wondered why other teachers would not help me, and raised this question, but I was scolded, “Don’t depend on others!”



  After all, I continued to take on her tasks after she came back to school, but I did not feel like complaining, because I was struck by her kept working as if nothing had happened. I was astonished how the school was cold enough to let the mother who lost her baby rest for just 3 months.



  At the end of the schoolyear, the principal said to me, “You have done very well. I expected you would fall down.” I got sure I was just a “disposable teacher” for him. He assigned her tasks though he knew it was impossible for a freshman teacher.

  If I had fallen down, he would have said, “You have needed more guts.”



  Not enough staff or time. This is what you find at schools.

  It is not unusual female teachers who have 3rd-year students are told they should get pregnant. I have been told so. Schools have already had the last stage. We female teachers cannot have our own children. Male teachers cannot become “fathers,” either, because too much work will not allow them to have time to spend with their families.



  I want to ask, “Do you still say to us, ‘More work, More bukatsu’?” “Can you leave your children to such schools with trust?”




※Supplement: Can overworking cause a stillbirth?


 The following is the supplement by Kyodo-Columns, based on the professional views by an obstetrician and gynecologist and a doctor of medicine. Basically, overworking cannot cause a stillbirth. It is hard to identify the cause of a stillbirth, except fetal disorder or cord factor. However, if a pregnant woman feels ill but has no time to see a doctor because of overworking, it could be said the overworking caused a stillbirth.


 We sincerely expect you read this column through the serious concern young female teacher in Japan have about their work and pregnancy.


2017.7 Added by KYODO columns


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