“Education for International Understanding” in Japan

The world is getting more and more globalized. In order to communicate with foreigners, it is inevitable to understand the different values of other cultures so that we may avoid the conflict between us. Education is one of the most important methods of enhancing the understanding of different values of other cultures. I would like to think about the current condition and effectiveness of “Education for International Understanding” in Japan.
This concept “Education for International Understanding” is firstly advocated by UNESCO in 1974. It includes the concept of peace education, understanding of each country, human-rights education, and understanding of UN. Its purpose is not only about the education of understanding of other countries and its culture but also to broaden people’s international scope and cultivate their sense of unity as global citizen, world interdependency, and awareness toward peace/human-rights/environment.

In Japan, this concept is gradually advocated from end of 1980s and started to introduce it in several classes such as integrated study period (総合的な学習の時間), moral study, and society study. According to Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (文部科学省), they create a consultative body on education for international understanding every year so that they can talk about that issue deeply. Moreover, for example, they choose a core school and implement the development of classes and workshops for promoting the International education by cooperating with NPO. They are also increasing the opportunity to communicate with foreigners or implementing the study abroad program for students so that they can really have opportunities to communicate with people who have different background.

These are the brief definition and actual condition of education for international understanding. Now, I would like to give my opinion toward this issue. I do also think that this education would be really important to avoid the collision of different cultures. In my opinion, “actual communication” is a crucial point from my experience. Many Japanese people tend to hesitate to communicate with foreigners because they may have totally different way of thinking or maybe Japanese students have no confidence of speaking English. However, it is not good to have a stereotype about them because you do not even communicate with them. Also, language is important method but having motivation and curiosity may be more important in communication. In my view, Japan is accepting this kind of education more than before but still there are less opportunities of “actual communication” for students. Students should think and learn by themselves by having more curiosity and schools should give more opportunities and environments to them so it would be easier for students to achieve it. Therefore, increasing opportunity of “actual communication” with people who have different culture should be enhanced more and more in Japanese education.

by  Mao Shukunobe

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