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Filipino boy happy with education ministry push for overage foreign kids to attend school

Migrino Marrione, left, attends school in the Aichi Prefecture city of Toyohashi, on May 15, 2018. (Mainichi/Haruna Okuyama)

TOYOHASHI, Aichi -- A 16-year-old boy from the Philippines is one of the foreigners expressing joy over the education ministry's decision to send notices urging foreign children, including those over compulsory education age, to be allowed to attend school.

"I'm happy that children like me will have more opportunities to study," said Migrino Marrione, who spoke in a mixture of Japanese, English and Tagalog during a recent interview with the Mainichi Shimbun. The boy entered a junior high school in the Aichi Prefecture city of Toyohashi, central Japan, over school age. His 33-year-old mother, who also spoke in a mixture of languages, acted as his interpreter and quoted the boy as saying, "I was able to make friends and find my dream in Japan thanks to school."

The 16-year-old boy moved to the central Japan city of Nagoya after his mother got remarried to a Japanese man in June 2017. Marrione was then 14 -- the usual age for a third-year junior high school student in Japan.

The boy's parents, worried that Marrione may get bullied because he could not speak, read or write in Japanese at the time, hoped their child would fit in at school with a Japanese name. However, one year passed in the procedure of getting his name changed and for other reasons.

After the family moved to Toyohashi last April, the municipal government and junior high school allowed Marrione to enter as a third-year student with understanding of his situation -- though he was over school age. Marrione recalled that he felt anxious about always staying at home while children around him went to school. The boy was very pleased when he found out that he could attend school.

Marrione will be studying at a high school offering evening classes in Toyohashi, as the first step to achieve his dream of becoming a chef and running a restaurant, after graduating from junior high school this spring.

The boy's mother says it is sad that children cannot go to school if they are just one year older than the standard school age, as it has a big impact on their lives. She thinks Marrione would not have been able to go on to attend high school if he was not accepted into junior high school. The woman stated, "I hope more schools will permit (children) regardless of their age."

(Japanese original by Japanese original by Hitomi Takai, Nagoya News Center)

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