JAPANESE SCHOOLS -- IN YOUR DISTRICT?
Someday Canadian parents may be sending kids to Japanese schools. Not
in Japan (although that's being done by advanced-thinking American
parents who already have their kids ensconced in Tokyo, Nogoya, Kyoto or
Kawasaki) but right in their own school districts. Future thinking? That
future has already arrived in France, Britain, Germany, Denmark,
Ireland, the United States, Mexico and Singapore (the latter complete
with astronomical laboratory). Eventually, it has to happen here.
Why is this happening? The world is changing. The Japanese, now
averaging per capita -- man, woman and child -- incomes of Yen 3,470,000
(US$24,000) annually, are leading the globalization movement on the
As they export more, and establish more factories, distribution
centres and research plants around the world, they have more nationals
living abroad. Except for learning English and attending the top
American, Canadian, British and German Universities, they are not
generally enamored of the traditional educational institutions outside
Japan. The demand for their own schools has been building up -- NEC
alone has 900 Japanese among their 25,000 overseas employees. The
current issue of the Journal of Japanese Trade & Industry devotes an
entire issue to this subject and corporate education.
The first Japanese school outside of Japan, the Rikko School, opened
in 1972 in a London, England suburb. Strong pressure from the Japanese
educational establishment apparently prevented the opening of more
overseas schools. But in 1986 the Lycee Seijo d'Alsace was founded by
Seijo Gakuen, a well-known Japanese educator who realized times were
changing. It was triggered by an invitation from local French officials
who invited Japanese factories to open plants in their region. Sony
moved there first, then Ricoh. The rest is history. Now everybody is
getting into the act. Private Japanese high schools have been opening in
various world centres since that time. They are all privately operated.
Although most handle only high school students, some have facilities for
elementary and junior high school levels.
These are real Japanese schools. That means devotion to learning. The
Alsace Lycee currently has 180 Japanese teenagers attending classes from
seventh to twelfth grade. The students come from not only from France,
but also from other parts of Europe, Russia, Africa, Asia and Japan. All
reside in school dormitories.
As the Japanese strengthen their switch from exports to knowledge
industries and direct overseas investment, the trend in overseas
schooling can only accelerate.
This is not the only reason. According to Professor Ryoichi Kuroha of
Tsukuba University, quoted in the Japanese Trade & Industry journal
"with the steady decline in the birthrate in Japan in recent years,
there is certain to be a drop in the number of school children in the
future. Private schools in Japan are beginning to engage in fierce
competition for a share in the shrinking market to ensure their
It will not stop there. In Mexico City, the largest city in the world,
the aristocracy are already sending their children to -- you guessed it
-- Japanese schools! They know where the action is, and when Mexico
explodes industrially in the future with their soon-to-be one hundred
million citizens (culturally linked with another 20 million Hispanics in
the U.S.), some younger citizens will already have school chums among
the Japanese industrial elite.
The industrial age used a slightly derogatory phrase "it's who you
know, not what you know" to emphasize what pays off. In the
communications age it's called, more politely, networking. Those who
make good connections at an early age usually find them useful in later
There are two Japanese schools in Vancouver. The Richmond
International High School and College and the Canadian International
College in North Vancouver, which also has a campus in Nelson. The
Richmond school already have accepted a non-Japanese student and have an
open-to-discussion policy on this subject.
Are private schools better than public schools? That's a matter of
opinion. However, you might get a hint from the fact that 70 percent of
all school teachers in the Chicago public school system send their own
kids to private schools. You might want to get some local opinions on
Though this Japanese trend may seem unusual to some, it is just a
continuing example: American schools spread around the world when the
U.S. was the world's dominant economic player.
Richmond International High School and College.
621 Odlin Crescent,
Richmond, BC V6X 1G1.
Dr. Ian Andrews,
Canadian International College,
2420 Dollarton Highway,
North Vancouver, BC V7H 2Y1.
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