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Japan Study Tour for Scotland’s Education Leaders in local Kamaishi News!

The recent Japan Study Tour for Scotland’s Education Leaders, in which 20 educational professionals from Scotland visited Japan to learn about Japanese society, culture and education, was reported in Entrance, the local newspaper of Kamaishi in Iwate Prefecture. You can find the original story in Japanese here.

We have provided a basic English translation of the article below. This is an unofficial translation by the Japan Foundation London produced to the best of our knowledge. We are unable to guarantee or take responsibility for the accuracy of the content.


Photo 1 Caption:  Scottish education professionals visited  Kamaishi High School and strengthened their relations with the six students who visited Orkney last year.

On February 15th, 20 education professionals from Scotland, a country with a strong tradition of rugby, visitied Kamaishi City in order to deepen their understanding of Japan’s culture and education system, as well as the current disaster reconstruction  efforts. They observed an English class at Kamaishi High School (Head Teacher: Kazuya Sato, Roll: 531 pupils). They also visited the building site of a school in Unosumaicho where construction on a stadium for the Rugby World Cup in 2019 is taking place, in which Scotland has a keen interest.

This visit was part of an invitation programme by the Japan Foundation (Head office: Tokyo) in response to the increasing interest in Japanese as a second language, as part of an overall strategy of Scottish education policy to introduce two languages in addition to the mother tongue languages at primary schools . The purpose is to give young people in Scotland a more globally competitive outlook for the future. The tour aimed to enable participants to experience not only Japanese language, but also the culture and the education environment of Japan and to get a feel for the potentials Japanese has to offer. The delegation, who arrived in Japan on February 12th, visited an elementary school in Tokyo and held discussions with the school community.

Admiration for  the enthusiasm of High School students

Kamaishi High School, which has been designated by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology as a Super Science High School, has organised visits to the Orkney Isles in Scotland as part of overseas study tour into marine energy. This occasion was a chance for the Orkney Isles to develop the relationship further by making the trip to Kamaishi City.

The delegates observed 37 pupils in Year 1 in an English class. They heard the pupils make speeches about their future dreams in English. Among the aspiring teachers, nurses and accountants, one pupil said, “I want to do work that helps with the reconstruction effort. I want to develop leadership skills in order to guide people involved to do this.” Mr Wilf Weir, Executive Director for Education, Leisure and Housing at Orkney Islands Council, found this admirable. “I am impressed to see the incredible enthusiasm of these pupils. I would like to share Japan’s excellence in education with Scottish people,” he commented.

Picture 2 Caption: Many smiling faces as pupils make an effort to communicate

The Scottish delegates asked the pupils many questions about their study.  After putting the English vocabulary they knew to use, the pupils felt an added impetus to study English, saying, “We just about managed to communicate. I want to brush up on the parts that are still difficult.”

The delegates also got a chance to hear about the school’s educational principles and daily life, and to talk with the six 3rd Year pupils who took part in the research visit to Orkney in September last year.

After this, the delegation visited Unosumaicho. They heard about the damage situation at the building site of a school which is being rebuilt on the plateau, and learn more about the current state of the reconstruction efforts.

Picture 3 Caption: Observing the school building site at Unosumaicho

Dr Petra McLay, Curriculum Leader of Languages & International Culture at Bell Baxter High School in Fife which has already introduced Japanese language education, was impressed by Japan’s education system and the enthusiasm of its educational professionals, but explained that there is a lack of teachers in Scotland who can promote Japanese language education. “There is a possibility we can do this if we form a regional network of schools thinking of introducing Japanese. We hope to compare educational systems and adopt the best parts,” she said.

The delegation will also experience Japanese culture through temples and Zen meditation in Kyoto, and will return to Scotland on February 18th.

(Fukkou Kamaishi Newspaper, 18th February 2017, Issue 564)