Without leaders calling for diversity and inclusion, it's very difficult to build up momentum from grass roots.
一般社団法人 FutureEdu 代表理事
一般社団法人 Learn by Creation 代表理事
QUEST TOKYO KK 創立者 兼 ディレクター
The ICWB participants who chose to join the Roundtable discussion titled “Education for the future” were rewarded with a dynamic and inspiring discussion. Facilitator Emi Takemura brought her wealth of experience in the digital realm and in education from her roles as the representative director of both FutureEdu and Learn by Creation, and as co-founder of Peatix.com. She was joined by a distinguished slate of panelists: Kirsten O'Connor, founder and director of QUEST TOKYO; Kanae Doi, Japan Director of Human Rights Watch; and Rie Hirakawa, superintendent of the Hiroshima Prefectural Board of Education.
Ms. Takemura kicked off the conversation with a question for Ms. Hirakawa about what promising signs and critical issues she sees in Japanese education, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic. Ms. Hirakawa shared details about the two aspects of reforms that she was part of in Hiroshima prefecture that involved education and systemic changes. Ms. O’Connor offered her take on education reform in Japan and on a more global scale as an education consultant. She acknowledged that the Covid-19 pandemic has introduced a need that teachers all over the world are facing: the need to quickly acquire digital teaching skills.
Asked to comment from a societal perspective on the critical issues in education due to Covid-19, Ms. Doi said Covid-19 has increased the gap between the privileged and unprivileged around the world. She revealed what Human Rights Watch’s global research said about Japan’s extremely limited online access to education during the 3-month school shutdown and stressed the need to improve access for all schoolchildren and well as the quality of education.
Ms. Hirakawa explained ways in which the Japanese education system is rigid and shared some of the innovations she is spearheading in Hiroshima Prefecture schools, including alternative curricula such as the International Baccalaureate (IB). She said “Japan is very good at pivoting when something enormous pushes it” and suggests that the pandemic might be that push. Ms. Doi explained that the Japan doesn’t yet have laws on human rights and LGBTQ rights, but the Ministry of Education, who determined the curricula, cannot wait for them to establish such laws. They have to incorporate these concepts and other global issues into the curricula to help Japanese students become more global minded and equity-minded.
Ms. O’Connor stressed that students need to learn to think critically and to separate opinion from fact. She also said companies can play a role by showing there is a real-life connection to an academic education. As for getting education stakeholders to champion change, Ms. Hirakawa said diversity is one solution; she is hopeful because 30.5% of the principals in Hiroshima are women, who are very straightforward.
国際NGO ヒューマン・ライツ・ウォッチ 日本代表
Ms. O’Connor said that Japan’s education system generates a harmonious, responsible and cooperative society, which should be preserved, but it also needs to develop a wider appreciation for and acceptance of a more diverse society and to teach students to engage in critical thinking on global issues. Ms. Doi and Ms. Hirakawa added that schools have to also tackle ongoing issues, such as school avoidance, harassment, and suicides rates.
After some thoughtful exchanges between the panelists and participants, the session came to a close.