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Japan

What Arab Teachers Learn From Japanese Education System

Schoolchildren in Tokyo
Schoolchildren in Tokyo

TOKYO — Earlier this year, a delegation from the Egyptian government was visiting Nibukata Primary School in Tokyo. "The children are well-disciplined and work in teams," a member of the delegation noted.

But the delegate then went on to express particular surprise that children sweep and mop the classroom floors, for it's common in Egypt for all the cleaning to be done by janitors. "We'd like to introduce Japan's special activities, which foster human capabilities, in our school education," said former Higher Education Minister Hany Helal.

Efforts are increasing to introduce Japanese-style education, with its emphasis on special activities like cleaning and school events in addition to children's academic development, in countries across the Arab world and elsewhere.

These moves are prompted by the expectation that fostering discipline and cooperativeness will help to develop the human resources responsible for future nation building. The government has decided to "export" its knowledge of this kind of education, with the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry accelerating efforts to build a framework to respond smoothly to the needs of each country.

As Principal Hiromi Shimizu of Nibukata Primary School said to the Egyptian delegation, "Special activities help reduce bullying and also lead to improved academic performance."

According to the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the number of officials in charge of educational administration around the world who visit Japan to learn about the educational methods of its primary and middle schools has been increasing. A total of 617 officials from 79 countries visited in fiscal 2014, up about 70% from fiscal 2004.

Some children overseas have already experienced Japanese-style education.

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Schoolboy in Setagaya, Japan — Photo: spaztacular

High expectations

The Japanese school in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates has been accepting local children since 2006 at the request of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. About 20 local children take classes with about 50 Japanese children and participate in special activities. "They're pleased the children can learn Japanese-style manners and achieve high academic performance," said Principal Masahiro Ogawa, 57.

According to the education ministry, primary schools in Saudi Arabia introduced classroom cleaning after a special program on Japan was aired in 2009 on MBC, a Middle East satellite TV station. The program spotlighted classroom cleaning and school lunches in Japan.

Expectations are also high for Japanese-style career education.

There are moves to introduce Japanese educational methods in countries other than those in the Arab world. The education ministry plans to establish a council in fiscal 2016 that will comprise JICA, incorporated educational institutions and other organizations. The ministry aims to help schools expand their operations overseas.

"The awareness that holistic education, which teaches cooperativeness with others, is important has been spreading globally, and Japanese-style education is drawing attention," said University of Tokyo Prof. Ryoko Tsuneyoshi, who specializes in comparative education.

"However, Japanese-style education also has drawbacks in that it lacks a diverse perspective in terms of things like ethnic groups and religions. By learning from each other, I hope Japan will take this opportunity to improve its own style of education."

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Geopolitics

Minerals And Violence: A Papal Condemnation Of African Exploitation, Circa 2023

Before heading to South Sudan to continue his highly anticipated trip to Africa, the pontiff was in the Democratic Republic of Congo where he delivered a powerful speech, in a country where 40 million Catholics live.

Minerals And Violence: A Papal Condemnation Of African Exploitation, Circa 2023
Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — You may know the famous Joseph Stalin quote: “The Pope? How many divisions has he got?” Pope Francis still has no military divisions to his name, but he uses his voice, and he does so wisely — sometimes speaking up when no one else would dare.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (the former Belgian Congo, a region plundered and martyred, before and after its independence in 1960), Francis has chosen to speak loudly. Congo is a country with 110 million inhabitants, immensely rich in minerals, but populated by poor people and victims of brutal wars.

That land is essential to the planetary ecosystem, and yet for too long, the world has not seen it for its true value.

The words of this 86-year-old pope, who now moves around in a wheelchair, deserve our attention. He undoubtedly said what a billion Africans are thinking: "Hands off the Democratic Republic of the Congo! Hands off Africa! Stop choking Africa: It is not a mine to be stripped or a terrain to be plundered!"

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