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June 28, 2013

Japan | Education

Confusion in Japan over call for 'global human resources'

global-human-resources.jpgA recent feature in The Mainichi took a lengthy look at the confusion surrounding the term "global human resources' and its practical implications for English language education in Japan.

Recently, not a day goes by without someone proclaiming the importance of nurturing "global human resources." Bold proposals abound, including the use of TOEFL scores as a criterion for admission to college, and the introduction of English as a subject in lower elementary school grades. What, however, does "global human resources" actually mean?

At the Institution for a Global Society (IGS), a Tokyo preparatory cram school catering toward elementary, junior high and high school students who aspire to attend schools overseas, founder and CEO Masahiro Fukuhara teaches a class on "creating values."

"It doesn't matter what it is: just say what you think!" Fukuhara urges, nudging and encouraging the 15 high school students, who all appear to be at a loss. The topic of the day's lesson is: "Which do you support? The Syrian Armed Forces, or Syrian rebels?"

"You don't have to have the right answer. Japanese people are too worried about getting it right, which is the reason they are scared to speak up," he says. "This is the biggest news story on CNN. You have to know about it if you're planning to go to college abroad."

The students are constantly kept on their toes by Fukuhara's ongoing barrage of questions and prompts. Twenty elementary school students and 35 junior high and high school students attend the school, which was founded in 2010. There were only four students in the beginning, but as calls for "global human resources" increased, so did inquiries from families interested in the school.

Read the full story from The Mainichi.

ELT News interview with Kumiko Torikai.

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