education: schools programs from the very start
The use of TV in education was among NHK's first goals. The importance attached to education was underlined by the launch of a weekly 15-minute program for schools in October 1951, when TV broadcasting was still in an experimental stage. After the official launch, although the initial output of all broadcasts only totaled four hours a day, the 15-minute slot from 1 p.m. was devoted to programs for elementary and junior high schools. This paved the way for the opening of the NHK Educational TV channel in October 1959.
An educational TV channel can be defined as one in which educational programs make up more than 50% of the programming, and cultural programs more than 30%. With quasi-educational TV channels, the percentages change to more than 20% for educational programs, and more than 30% for cultural programs.
By November 1973, all commercial educational channels (Yomiuri Telecasting Corp., Television Tokyo Channel 12, Ltd., Mainichi Broadcasting System Inc., The Sapporo Television Broadcasting Company, Ltd.) and quasi-educational TV stations had been discontinued because of limited business prospects, and companies had switched to general broadcasting.
In June 1959, a TV set was placed in a branch elementary school at Kuriyama Village in Tochigi Prefecture, north of Tokyo. The school was located 1,000 meters above sea level and had only 31 pupils. NHK provided the set as part of its TV-on-wheels project, in which TV sets were rented out for temporary periods. Naturally, the children were thrilled by this chance to see the outside world with their own eyes for the first time.
Records of a Mountain Branch School was a documentary covering the potential influence of TV on children's learning. It was regarded internationally as a fine example of the application of TV to school education. The use of TV in schools continued to make progress every year, with teachers establishing voluntary study groups to assess its effects. In 1963, 17,000 teachers took part in a national convention on how TV could best be used in school education.