« 南北対話―「核」の進展あってこそ | トップページ | きょう投票 1票が日本の進路を決める »

2009年8月29日 (土)


--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 28(IHT/Asahi: August 29,2009)
EDITORIAL: Revamping education

The basis of economic strength is "people." It was also hardworking, competent personnel who supported Japan's postwar growth.

When students finish school, they get jobs. Once they join companies as full-time employees, they are taught the basics of work. It was a matter of course for workers to stay with the same company until they reached retirement age.

However, there is no way young people today can follow such a life model--even if they want to. Forty percent of university graduates who find jobs quit within three years. The ratio is 50 percent for those who start working after high school. Ten percent of university graduates neither land jobs nor go on to a graduate school and remain unemployed. This is the harsh reality of recent years.

Companies can no longer afford to train young people on their own. With economic globalization, desired skills have become diversified. In order for Japan to survive, society as a whole needs to train people who can support the next generation and break new ground. For that, educational systems need to be drastically re-examined.

Also due to intense competition from newly rising countries, Western industrialized nations are allocating a large portion of their budgets for education. The average educational budget for members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is 5 percent of gross domestic product. The ratio for Japan is only 3.4 percent.

In many Western countries, high school tuition is free. Scholarship systems are also available to university and graduate students.

In particular, Finland, which produces good results in the OECD's Program for International Student Assessment, carried out a major educational system reform and provides high-level education for almost free from the elementary to university levels. The country is also known for its narrow gaps in children's academic performance.

In Japan, gaps in children's scholastic abilities and the schools they attend are getting wider, depending on the income of the parents. If the gaps become fixed, it would greatly undermine the vitality of society.

To provide adequate educational opportunities to children from poor families, the quality of public education must be raised as a first step. In order to provide detailed instructions to meet the needs of individual students, classes need to be small. The number of teachers and their skills must also be raised.

While there are differences in national circumstances and educational systems among countries, Japan is urged to at least raise the ratio of its educational budget to GDP to the average level of industrialized countries. While fiscal demand for welfare also keeps swelling, politicians need the determination to make a bold investment for the future.

Money is not the only thing needed for development of human resources. The awareness of schools and teachers must also change. They need to change their inward-looking mind-set and turn out young people who can challenge the world.

For Japan to build an economic bloc to live together with Asia, the country should drastically promote internationalization of universities and increase the number of foreign students they accept.

In many industrialized nations, it is possible for workers to return to university and graduate school and advance their careers, making use of the knowledge, skills and qualifications they gained. Japanese society also needs to develop such mobility and flexibility.


« 南北対話―「核」の進展あってこそ | トップページ | きょう投票 1票が日本の進路を決める »





« 南北対話―「核」の進展あってこそ | トップページ | きょう投票 1票が日本の進路を決める »