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What is Development Education?

Development Education and Global Educations in the Japanese Context

by TANAKA Haruhiko
– representative of DEAR 2002-2008, professor of Rikkyo Univ.

In this paper we will discuss global educations and especially development education in Japan. We will talk of the early history of international education and development education in the 1970s in the first section. In the second section we will follow the early stage of the development education movement in the 1980s. Development of education concerning global issues in the 90s will be discussed in the section three. Finally, we will review recent issues concerning development and global educations from the year 2000 to the present.

In this paper ‘global education’ means education in global perspectives which was first developed in the United States and Britain. When we use the term ‘global educations (plural)’, this refers to various kinds of education concerning global issues, such as development education, environmental education, and multi-cultural education.

1. Emergence of Globalism in Education in the 1970s 1)

Education concerning globalization first appeared in the late 1960s and 70s. This included development education, international education and global education. Development education was promoted by developmental NGOs of northern European countries and Canada in the 1960s. They focused on the problems of under-development which prevailed over the Third World countries. Action for Development (FAO) and UNESCO surveyed the policies and practices of development education and published a report in 1974 entitled ‘ In-school Development Education in the Industrialized Countries: A Six-Country Comparative Study’. 2)

International Education was advocated in the UNESCO context. UNESCO had long been promoting this through its Education for International Understanding programs since 1947. It covered four areas – peace education, education for human rights, understanding each country and understanding the United Nations. In 1974 at its 18th session UNESCO adopted the Recommendation Concerning Education for International Understanding, Cooperation and Peace and Education relating to Human rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Education as outlined in this recommendation is referred to as ‘International Education’ in brief. International education mainly focused on four areas – peace and disarmament education, education for human rights, development education and environmental education.

Global Education or Global Perspectives in Education originated in the United States. The education of the U.S. had been nationalistic during the Cold War period, which emphasized the prominence of the ideology and culture of the U.S. But after the Vietnam War globalism gained momentum in education. Global education criticized ethnocentrism and emphasized global perspectives. Recognizing that the United States is a multi-ethnic country, global education aimed at mutual understanding and living-together among multi-nation groups. Global education covered almost the same areas as international education, and placed a greater emphasis on multi-racial and multi-ethnic communications. Global Education in the U.S. has been initiated by the Global Perspectives in Education (later renamed as the American Forum for Global Education). Global education covered the area of developmental issues since 1984 when the Joint Working Group on Development Education submitted a report entitled ‘A Framework for Development Education in the United States.’ 3)

2. Development Education in Japan in the 1980s 4)

The first symposium on development education was held in 1979 in Tokyo. It was sponsored by UNICEF and the UN University. After this symposium developmental NGOs, youth organizations and UN related associations organized monthly meeting to study development education. They supported symposiums on development education at Yokohama in 1980, Osaka in 1981 and Nagoya in 1982.

Under the initiative of this group, The Development Education Council of Japan (DECJ) was established in 1982. DECJ defined development education as follows:

Development Education is the education and learning in school and community to understand the structure and causes of under-development, the inter-relatedness of the global community, efforts and projects of development. It also seeks change of attitudes and morale to participate in the process of solving developmental issues.

DECJ has had its annual conference every summer since 1983. Topics discussed have included African starvation in 1984, global environmental issues in 1988 and official development assistance in 1989.

The 1980s were the early stage of globalization in Japanese society. About 6000 refugees from countries of Indochina flowed into Japan until 1985. Japan joined the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees in 1982. This Convention benefited not only refugees from Indochina, but 800,000 Koreans living in Japan. They are descendants of Koreans who had been forced to work in Japan before and during the Asia- Pacific War.

Japan has long refused to admit foreign manual workers from the Third World. But as the economy boomed in the late 1980s, many companies faced serious labor shortages. A lot of foreign people flowed into Japan either legally or illegally as a labor force from neighboring Asian countries first and then later from South American countries. At its peak the number of such foreign workers is estimated at more than a half million. This was the first experience for most Japanese people to work and live with foreign workers.

Until 1977, the Japanese government had long been uninterested in the giving of official development assistance (ODA). The total sum of ODA in fiscal 1977 was 1.42 billion US dollars. It increased rapidly to 3.77 billion in 1983, and 8.97 billion in 1989. The year 1989 found the Japanese ODA exceeding that of the United States, which meant Japan became the leader among OECD countries. On the other hand, most developmental NGOs started their projects between 1977 and 1983, with the number reaching 400 in 1990. Development issues built momentum around 1990, and more people have come to be interested in development education.

Though the globalization of Japanese society in every walk of life has been so rapid during the 1980s, the educational community remained somewhat backward. Premier Nakasone inaugurated the National Council on Educational Reform in 1984. Its second report of 1986 recommended that new education should respond to internationalization and the information society. The response of Monbusho (Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture) was limited. 5) In the 1989 Course of Study, the Japanese national curriculum, environmental education and education for international understanding were emphasized to respond to the Council Report. Since there were few changes in regards to subjects taught, it was hard for teachers to provide comprehensive environmental and international education in schools.

3. Progress of Global Education in the 1990s

1989 was a great year not only for Japan, but for the world. It is the year known for the collapse of the Berlin Wall. It was also the year for Japanese to find its ODA the largest in the world. It was the year of adopting the Convention of the Rights of Children at the UN conference. Additionally, it was the year of starting the new school curriculum by the Monbusho of Japan. The 1990s started in this atmosphere.

During the period from 1990 to 1996, six large international and UN conferences were held, one almost every year. These included: the World Conference on Education for All (Jomtien, 1990), the UN Conference on Environment and Development (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), the World Human Rights Conference (Vienna, 1993), the Intergovernmental Conference on Population and Development (Cairo, 1994), the World Summit for Social Development (Copenhagen, 1995), the Fourth UN Women’s World Conference (Peking, 1995), and the UN Conference on Human Dwellings (Istanbul, 1996). In the process of these discussions, the focus of global issues – peace, human rights, development, environment, gender, etc. – were made clear and the inter-relatedness of these issues was widely recognized. 6)

As global issues are interrelated, so are global educations. Traditionally environmental education treated mainly the preservation of nature and prevention of pollutions. It widened its scope into global environmental issues such as global warming, desertification, population and developmental issues. Development education has come to include global environmental issues and gender issues. Education for human rights had focused on the Japanese indigenous discrimination issue called buraku-mondai 7), but it further developed into indigenous people, immigrants and minorities. After the fall of the Berlin Wall the focus of peace education moved from the East-west issue to local issues of multiracism or building cultures of peace.

The 1990s saw not only the reconstruction of the contents of global issues, but the methods of teaching and learning. The Development Education Council of Japan has been interested in participatory learning from its start, and they introduced many learning methods such as debate, photo language and simulations. This is because the goal of global educations is not only to give knowledge and skills of global issues but a change of attitudes to participate in the process of solving these issues. Old methods of teaching were insufficient to attain these goals.

The Hamburg Declaration on Adult Learning in 1977 starts with the following passage: 
We, the participants in the Fifth International Conference on Adult Education reaffirm that only human-centered development and a participatory society based on the full respect of human rights will lead to sustainable and equitable development. The informed and effective participation of men and women in every sphere of life is needed if humanity is to survive and to meet the challenges of the future. 8)

Participatory methods of education are the basis to participate in solving global issues and build participatory society in the future. Local initiatives to support development education have widely spread in the 1990s. DECJ started the project of local seminars on development education in 1992 at Matsumoto, Kobe and Okayama. Since 1993 six local seminars on development education have been held all over Japan, with the funding support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. DECJ provided 46 local seminars through 2000, and it covered 35 prefectures among 48 prefectures in Japan. These seminars were organized by local NGOs, teachers and adult educators in each of the cities. In most cases they continue to keep a partnership to promote development education. The Japan International Cooperation Authority (JICA) and the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) have the same kind of programs to give seminars on development cooperation and education in local cities and towns. International exchange associations and centers in each region support these seminars in many cases. These seminars contributed to disseminating the knowledge and approaches of developmental and multicultural issues.

4. The Impact of 2002 Cirriculum

In 1997 the Central Council for Education reported that in the forthcoming new curriculum, beginning in 2002 the Integrated Study (Sogo Gakushu) would be introduced in every public school. In the following year the Curriculum Council clarified the Integrated Study as follows :

— Every primary school and junior high school will set the Period of Integrated Study. Primary schools are to have 105-110 hours every year (averaging 3 hours a week), and junior high schools are to have 70-130 (averaging 2-3 hours a week). 
— Integrated study is defined as lessons in which the school is able to conduct its own special, individually-crafted educational activities which respond to the circumstances of the community, school and children.
— Integrated study represents opportunities for learning about interdisciplinary subjects, including international understanding, information, environment, welfare and health. –These classes are not for instilling knowledge, but for developing the aim that students will cultivate the ability to discover and study issues independently, and to learn and think for themselves.
— These classes aim for students to acquire the skills to learn and investigate, including how to collect, research and collate information. 9)

The Japanese school curriculum has been long provided by the Monbusho. All subjects, its contents and times were fixed for the course of study which has been revised almost every ten years. Textbooks were published by private companies but they should be authorized by the Ministry. Although there will be only two or three hours a week, the Integrated Study is unique in the history of the Japanese educational curriculum because the theme and contents will be selected by each school or each teacher. There will be no authorized textbooks and guidebooks.

For development education and other global educations, they will have great chances to implement their own curriculum. Until the 1989 Course of Study, there were no subjects of international understanding or environmental education. DECJ set up three special projects in 1998 regarding the integrated study – curriculum development project, participatory learning study group and partnership study group. The partnership group seeks better partnerships among school, community and NGOs for the integrated study. DECJ published three handbooks entitled – ‘Waku-waku Kaihatsu Kyoiku’ for participatory learning (1999)10), ‘IkiIki Kaihatsu Kyoiku’ for 12 curriculum of development education (2000)11), and ‘Tsunagare Kaihatsu Kyoiku’ for partnership of school and community (2001)12). The titles of 12 curriculum of development education are as follows: Child, Culture, Food, Environment, Trade, Poverty, Literacy, Refugee, International Cooperation, Gender, Foreigners in Japan, and Our Community.

The 2002 Course of Study is to be evaluated in three ways. First of all, this will be the first time in a half-century that the Monbusho has decentralized the process of curriculum development. All of the purpose and contents of the school curriculum have been guided by the Course of Study since 1958. Though it is only two to three hours a week, each school can make their curriculum in the Period of Integrated Study.

Second, global issues will be included in the new curriculums. Environment and international understanding are expressed in the examples of the themes which will be included in the Integrated Study. Not only these two issues, other global issues will be able to be taught in schools when each school or teacher have the will and ability to organize curriculum on global issues.

Thirdly, the 2002 Course of Study encourages public schools to open its doors to the community. To ensure the participation of parents and community groups, the School Councilors System will be introduced in every public school starting in 2002. School councilors will advise the basic policy, curriculum and other school activities according to the request of the principal. Though the power of the School Councilors is not as strong as that of school boards in the US or Britain, this system will pave the way for parents and community to take part in the management of public schools.

5. Discussions

We will discuss three topics regarding the on-going issues on global and develoment educations : Globalism in education and economic globalization, Globalism and Nationalism in Education, and Participation of children and adults in global issues.

Globalism in Education vs. Economic Globalization

After the UN and International Conferences on global issues in the 1990s, DECJ redefined development education in 1994 as follows:

Development Education aims to understand various developmental issues, think of better development for the future and to participate in a fairer global community in which everyone can live together.

In this definition development education seeks fairness and justice among members of the global community, and for the co-existence of races and nations. The 1990s are the time when economic globalization has been widely spread. Economic globalization has both a bright and dark side. In 1997-98 Asian countries suffered from an economic crisis which was caused by money speculation. Poor people in these countries suffered more than the richest. Actions of a free market economy may sometimes have negative consequences on the local community and culture.

On the other hand, thanks to the internet and vehicles which allow us to move worldwide, we can exchange ideas and views more easily than ever. Global economies contribute to the global awareness of human rights. Global education is helping us to face how we evaluate and teach economic globalization.

Globalism and Nationalism in Education

When the Monbusho mentions education for the international understanding, it is always followed by ‘respect of the Japanese culture’. One of the main purposes of the 1989 Course of Study was ‘to enhance international understanding, and raise the attitude of respecting the culture and tradition of our nation’.

Modern education and nationalism are closely connected. From the Time the Meiji government started modern public education in 1872, their goal was a ‘wealthy nation and strong army.’ Even after the defeat of the Asian-Pacific War, education has sought unity of the Japanese people. In this sense global education does not have a stable basis in the Japanese educational community.

Premier Murayama addressed, in a speech marking the 50 years since the Asian Pacific War, the regret of the Asian Pacific War and promised to teach the damage of the War which Japan caused to neighboring Asian countries. But this caused a reaction since then by the nationalists. In the educational community they organized a group Atarashii Rekishi Kyokasho wo Tsukurukai (Association for Making a New History Textbook), and started to edit a new textbook of history of lower secondary school. In this textbook the role of Japan in the Asian Pacific War was appraised and they ignored damages caused by the War to neighboring countries.

In the process of the textbook authorization, this new textbook was ordered to rewrite many parts of the contents, but finally succeeded in getting permission to publish. China and Korea have criticized this textbook and requested the Japanese government to refuse this textbook of history.

Most of the global educators criticize this textbook. But educational nationalists refute this criticism by stating that global education is ‘rootless’ andhas no national identity. Global education emphasizes global citizenship, but it is not so clear as national identity. The largest global community is the European Union which has a half-century history. But Japan has not had any comparable close ties with neighboring countries, and it is hard for most Japanese to perceive identity on a larger than national scale.

Finally this text book of History was adopted 521 copies by 9 schools in 2001, which is only 0.039% of the total population of junior high school students. The Association for Making a New History Textbook accepted the defeat, but they declared to make new textbooks again to be adopted three years later.

Participation of Children in Global Issues

Refugees, poverty and slums – these developmental issues are still far from most of the children in Japan. Or it is hard that they ‘feel’ these issues relate to their lives. This has been the main problem for global educators. There are some clues to approach this problem – participatory learning and action research.

Along with the development of the curriculum of development education, DECJ published a series of teaching kits. These are ‘The Bangladesh Box’, ‘What is a fair trade – Let’s think of world trade from a cup of coffee’, ‘Let’s visit! World of various curry dishes’, and ‘New Trading Game – thinking of economic globalization’. These teaching kits contain a lot of learning activities to actively involve learners to understand complicated global issues. Kaori Usui, leader of the Group Chikyu, continuously made teaching kits ‘Chikyu no Nakamatachi (Friends on Earth)’ since 1987. These are photos of children and lives in the Third World which cover more than 20 countries. Takaaki Fujiwara published a CD-Rom kit entitled ‘Hyotan-jima Mondai’ which treats multi-cultural issues. In this kit, three tribes live in a same island named Hyotan-jima. They have troubles of communication, education and discrimination, and the learner are expected to join the process of problem solving.

The action research is a useful learning approach to find global issues in their community. According to Roger Hart, this approach aims children to find and analyze local issues and solving them in the community. 13) The action research starts with finding problems in the community. And they analyze the problem to find the cause and structure of the identified problem. After that learners will make a planning to solve the problem, and they will take an action. Finally they evaluate and reflect the process. The research will end with the success of the project, else they will make other planning or identify other problems.

This research seems to be finding and solving local problems only. But local issues sometimes connect with regional, national and global issues. For example, when they find problems of foreign residents in the community, it will lead to the mobilization of foreign workers or the gap of income between countries. Or When children go to a supermarket, they will find a lot of foods and goods made in foreign countries. It is not difficult to develop a topic of the world trade from local supermarket.

The action research connects with local issues and global issues, and environmental education and development education, and school education and community education. This enhance the knowledge and skill for children to participate in the community. This is the approach to be recommended to use in the on-going integrated learning in the Japanese schools.

  1. The history of the development education owes to the following books. TANAKA, Haruhiko., Nanboku Mondai to Kaihatsu Kyoiku (North-south Issues and the Development Education, Japanese), Aki Shobo, 1999, 246p. TANAKA, Development Education in Japan 1975-1989, Bulletin of School of Education, No.81, Okayama University, 1989, pp.85-100.
  2. In-school Development Education in the Industrialized Countries: A Six-Country Comparative Study, Action for Development(FAO) UNESCO, 1974.
  3. A Framework for Development Education in the United States, The Joint Working Group on Development Education, Save the Children Fund, 1984.
  4. TANAKA, op.cit., pp113-125.
  5. The Monbusho, Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture was reorganized in 2001. The new name is the Monbu Kagakusho, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.
  6. TANAKA, Haruhiko., Chikyuteki Kadai to Shogai Gakushu (Global Issues and the Lifelong Learning, Japanese), Rikkyo Daigaku Kyoiku Gakka Kenkyu Nenpo, No.42, 1999, pp.147-156.
  7. The Hamburg Declaration on Adult Learning, UNESCO Fifth International Conferance on Adult Education, Hamburg, 1977.
  8. Discrimination issue to Buraku people. It is like outcasts in India. In 17th century Buraku people who engaged in certain occupations were placed the lowest social rank by Tokugawa government. This system was abolished in 1871, but still there exist incidents of discrimination especially in marriage and employment. 
  9. Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture, Japanese Government Policies in Education, Science, Sports and Culture 1999, Zaimusho Insatsukyoku, 2000, p93.
  10. Waku-waku Kaihatsu Kyoiku – Hints for the Participatory Learning (Japanese), Development Education Council of Japan, 1999, Tokyo.
  11. IkiIki Kaihatsu Kyoiku – Curriculum and Teaching Materials for the Integraed Learning (Japanese), Development Education Council of Japan, 2000.
  12. Tsunagare Kaihatsu Kyoiku – Partnership of the School and the Community (Japanese), Development Education Council of Japan, 2001.