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Small island school looking for students

Date Posted: 2009-06-25

Hatoma Island in Taketomi Town has a big problem. It has an elementary school with ten employees counting the principal, but it now has no students.

The isolated island has had four students at the elementary school staffed by the principal, Tetsuo Nagahama, an assistant principal, four teachers, a nurse and cook. The students were brothers and sisters, but they’re now gone.

The school lost the four students when their mother became ill and the family had to move away. The small Hatoma Island village and its residents have struggled for years to keep the school alive, and isn’t ready to toss in the towel. “We don’t know yet what to do,” says Nagahama. “We are just waiting to see what the board of education is going to do. It was very sudden that the four children transferred away.”

The village population has declined from 300 to only 50 in recent years, leaving the community center manager to argue, “we must not close the school. We need to put the school lights on again.” He predicts “we will find the children and open the school.”

A school event is scheduled for June 28th, and islanders are trying to decide if they should continue with the program, even though there are no children to participate in the activities.

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