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Despite legislative changes, education in Sudan continues to face challenges, especially in the midst of conflict and instability. The major obstacles faced in terms of education derive from poverty, refugee status and gender inequality. Keep reading to learn the top seven facts about education in Sudan.

Top 7 Facts about Education in Sudan

  1. Sudan currently has one of the biggest numbers of out-of-school children in the Middle East and North Africa region. UNICEF estimates that more than 3 million children between the ages of 5 and 13 are not attending school. In addition, though primary school enrollment stands at 76 percent, secondary school enrollment is only 28 percent. Nearly 3 million 5 to 13-year-old children are not enrolled in school.
  2. Sudan has a large number of unqualified teachers working in schools across the country. The Ministry of Education reports that 3,692 out of 7,315 of teachers in South and East Darfur are not properly trained nor sufficiently supervised.
  3. The illiteracy rate in Sudan stood at 50 percent for women and 30 percent for men in 2016. However, overall illiteracy has since dropped to 24 percent.
  4. Women and girls face major barriers to education. An estimated 49 percent of girls in Sudan do not attend school. Women are not protected against discrimination in classrooms, which subjects them to fewer opportunities and maltreatment. Sudanese society also adheres to gender norms that women only belong in the house to care for children and undertake domestic responsibilities. These stereotypes have affected women’s access to higher education because they are typically culturally bound to domestic and maternal duties.
  5. Sudan has worked toward major education reform in the past. Education in Sudan is free by law, however, many schools and universities charge extortionate fees throughout the school year, making schools too costly for children below the poverty line. Furthermore, the quality of education suffers due to the lack of government funding. In 2017, less than 1 percent of public spending went toward education in Sudan.
  6. Many children in Sudan who need education are refugees from other countries. Sudan hosts large numbers of refugees from Eritrea, Syria, Yemen, Chad and South Sudan. As of February 2019, more than 1 million refugees and asylum seekers were displaced in Sudan. An estimated 24 percent of them were of primary school age (6-13) and 9 percent were of secondary school age (14-17). The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and Educate a Child have teamed up to provide quality primary education to Sudanese refugees. Programs offered by the organizations include teacher training, provision of learning materials and construction/rehabilitation of classrooms. In 2016, 17,371 students were supplied with stationery kits, 763 students were enrolled in accelerated learning programs and 12 student committees were developed.
  7. Global Partnership for Education (GPE) is another nonprofit working in Sudan to strengthen the education system. The GPE aims to improve access to textbooks, quality of the academic environment and overall strengthen the institutional capacity of the education system. The GPE has allocated more than $76 million toward building 2,000 classrooms across the country, providing grants to 750 schools, distributing over 6 million textbooks and establishing teacher monitoring.

Despite the challenges presented by these facts about education in Sudan, various organizations have already begun to work toward developing a better and more effective education system in Sudan. As Sudan undergoes slow recovery from decades of conflict and instability, education becomes a priority and a necessity to recuperate. In the coming years, Sudan may see more progress toward a more inclusive education system if stability grows and increased opportunities arise for minorities such as girls and refugees.

Louise Macaraniag
Photo: Flickr

education in Pakistan
Pakistan has struggled for many years with the gender inequality of women achieving an education within their country. Pakistan is the sixth most populated country in the world, but with more than 40 percent of women never receiving an education, the nation has one of the lowest literacy rates on the continent.

While women do have the right to access education in Pakistan, there are several barriers that prevent them from doing so. In a patriarchal society, women find it difficult to access education and other opportunities because of the role a male-dominated culture plays in all of their lives.

Lack of Accessibility

One barrier that many women face in Pakistan is lack of accessibility. Many women living in the rural areas of the country are unable to attend school because they cannot afford the cost of transportation — for themselves or their children.

Although women and girls struggle to access the education in Pakistan that they so desperately need, there are many organizations working tirelessly to change these unfortunate circumstances.

The Citizen’s Foundation

One non-profit, The Citizens Foundation (TCF), has fought since 1995 to bring about positive changes in empowering women and making education more accessible to this population. The Citizens Foundation is now one of the most influential organizations in Pakistan when it comes to providing opportunities to the less fortunate.

The organization works to remove barriers that would otherwise prevent women from accessing education. TCF provides schools in rural environments which eliminates the need for transportation to more urban areas where more schools are located.

The Kashf Foundation

Working alongside The Citizens Foundation, The Kashf Foundation’s goal is the same. Established in 1999, the Kashf Foundation was created to help women from low-income areas build their entrepreneurship skills and complete their education.

The goal of this foundation is to help eliminate poverty by empowering women, which in turn provides better opportunities for their families.

The Central Asia Institute

The Central Asia Institute (CAI) is yet another non-profit working with the underprivileged women and children of Pakistan. Over the past twenty years, this organization has changed hundreds of lives by supporting women’s literacy.

With a wide variety of services — such as vocational centers, scholarships and even health centers — CAI is changing the educational system in the most impoverished areas of the country. The group provides services to both boys and girls but recognizes where the biggest change needs to happen — women’s education.

Progress for Education in Pakistan

In the past, achieving an education in Pakistan has been extremely difficult for women. But, like many countries, Pakistan wants to be able to provide its women with the same educational opportunities as its men. Unfortunately, that goal isn’t how situations always work out.

Pakistan has shown admirable effort in support of the education movement — many organizations have come together to redefine the way women receive schooling. Many people are starting to recognize that when women are educated, everyone benefits.

Women become empowered, and in turn, are able to lead happy and more successful lives. Pakistan has made many crucial changes in regard to gender equality and education, and is better as a nation because of it.

– Allisa Rumreich
Photo: Flickr

media misrepresents Haiti
In recent years, the typical media portrayal of Haiti has consistently conjured up a static image of a beleaguered nation where visible indicators of natural disaster, political instability and extreme poverty abound. Though this representation is not entirely false, it is incomplete. Haiti is well-deserving of a more fitting image that conveys its dynamism and development.

Withstanding trial and tribulation, Haiti is among the most resilient nations in the world. Like any other developing country today, Haiti is continuing to make progress despite setbacks along its way. The media misrepresents Haiti to be a place that is completely devoid of progress, forever stifled by unfortunate issues of circumstance. To the contrary, Haiti enjoys a stunningly beautiful landscape and is inhabited by hardworking, happy people with the resolve to pursue better lives for themselves and a better legacy for their country.

Education Reforms

Ensuring that children have access to quality education is an important investment in the development of any nation. Elizabeth King, former Director of Education for the World Bank, said it best: “The human mind makes possible all development achievements from health advances and agricultural innovations to efficient public administration and private sector growth. For countries to reap these benefits fully, they need to unleash the potential of the human mind. And there is no better tool for doing so than education.”

To this end, Haiti has made quality education a top policy priority over the last decade. The Global Partnership for Education granted $24.1 million in funding to improve primary education access, school performance and enrollment in Haiti.

In the last four years, Haiti has enrolled more than 73,000 students in primary education, built six additional classrooms, developed and employed more than 3,500 qualified teachers at the primary level and implemented a learning assessment system for primary education. Furthermore, the grant has helped increase student attendance to 83.5 percent in disadvantaged areas and made nutrition and health programs accessible to more than 100,000 children.

Agriculture

Suggesting that there is a dearth of economic stimulus is a particularly damaging way that the media misrepresents Haiti. It is true that many Haitians live on less than $2 a day, but economic opportunity continues to develop in the country to counteract extreme poverty.

With a climate that supports the cultivation of important cash crops like cacao and mango, as well as several staple crops, Haiti has a promising agricultural sector. USAID has worked with the country to develop sustainable agricultural techniques that increase production, improve food security and strengthen agricultural markets, ultimately increasing agricultural incomes and helping to develop and support small and medium enterprises to spur investment opportunity in the country.

Tech

Much of the media misrepresents Haiti by failing to cover recent tech advancements at work within the country. Surtab, Haiti’s answer to Apple and Samsung, has become a shining example of successful tech innovation in the country. Surtab develops and delivers a range of electronic mobile devices throughout the Caribbean and the African continent. The company employs a highly-skilled workforce, many of whom are women, and is helping to drive private sector development.

In June, Haiti will host its second annual Haiti Tech Summit, which will be attended by local and international industry leaders, digital marketers and innovators. Keynote speakers include lead developers from Facebook and Google as well as several notable figures from around the world. Aggregating some of the best tech thinkers and creators in the industry, the Haiti Tech Summit aims to accelerate local entrepreneurship and to bring global attention to Haiti’s emerging markets.

Tourism

The media misrepresents Haiti by suggesting that the country is too poor and too battered by earthquakes and hurricanes to be beautiful. The Dominican Republic and Haiti are co-located on the island of Hispaniola. They both boast beautiful beaches with glittering turquoise waters, rolling mountains and temperate, tropical weather, but only the Dominican Republic is celebrated as a place that’s worth visiting.

Despite unfair media portrayals, Haiti has been gaining traction over the last five years as a tourist destination. Haiti offers potential travelers breathtaking landscapes, complicated history and rich culture. Resort towns like Jacmel and Cap Haitien boast scenic coastal views, opulent dining and luxe accommodations that rival those of top beach communities around the world.

According to MSN, expatriate designer Victor Glemaud recently returned to Haiti after having left more than a decade ago. The country he came back to shattered his expectations: “What I was expecting from the media, and all the perceptions around the world about Haiti, were nonexistent. I saw the same vibrancy, the same resilience I remember from growing up. . . I was expecting devastation, and I didn’t see that.” Contrary to popular portrayals of the Caribbean nation, Haiti is a beautiful, thriving country.

– Chantel Baul

Photo: Flickr


Students coming out of Taiwan have routinely placed high on international test scores. However, a common concern about this region of the world is that there is too much emphasis on memorization and examination, stifling students’ creativity to create graduates who can test well but lack the critical thinking necessary for many of the world’s jobs.

The Ministry of Education in Taiwan has tackled this concern with a variety of reforms. Here are 10 reforms that have been implemented in the past decade to improve education in Taiwan:

  1. Taiwan’s Ministry of Education, which oversees education in Taiwan, stated that their goal is to replace the right to an education with the right to learn, to place focus on citizens and to make education “learner-centered.”
  2. As a response to the country’s low birth rate, Taiwan’s Ministry of Education announced in 2015 that they would be merging universities to better accommodate students who pursue higher education in the country.
  3. In 2009, Taiwan introduced a new reading program called “Happy Reading 101,” which increased the amount of time allocated for reading in schools, expanded elementary and junior high libraries and encouraged schools to promote reading-friendly activities. After the implementation, Taiwan improved its reading performance on the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), jumping from 23rd in 2009 to 4th in 2012.
  4. To place less pressure on students hoping to continue their education, Taiwan’s Ministry of Education began promoting an “exam-free pathway” to high school. This pathway encourages high schools to look at residency status, civic involvement, extracurricular activities and other factors when accepting students, rather than on test scores alone.
  5. Education in Taiwan now focuses on implementing decentralized curricula to better serve students, with many schools developing Curriculum Development Education Committees to make education student-centered.
  6. In 2014, the Ministry of Education added three years of mandatory schooling to be completed after junior high. The implementation of compulsory secondary education ensures that each student is prepared for their next step in life, be it the vocational or academic track.
  7. According to World Education News and Reviews, arts education in Taiwan is now available to all students, with classes such as music and fine arts being added to the curriculum.
  8. Taiwan has made improvements to schools’ vocational education and training (VET) programs, which help prepare students who choose the vocational track in high school for their career goals.
  9. Taiwan’s Ministry of Education supported e-learning and began encouraging schools to prepare students for a technological world in 2014.
  10. In 2015, the Ministry of Education cut the application process for high school in half and began requiring high schools to admit at least 50% of students based on results of the Comprehensive Assessment Program. The Ministry hopes this reform will place less stress on students as they apply to secondary schooling.

Though these reforms are relatively new to the system of education in Taiwan, the country has already seen improvement. More students have become enrolled in higher education institutions and been given more opportunities to continue their education. In fact, the Ministry of Education reports that the college acceptance rate has steadily risen from 20 percent in the 1970s to over 90 percent as of 2012. Also, according to World Education News and Reviews, the literacy rate in Taiwan has steadily increased throughout the years, going from 86 percent in 1998 to 98.5 percent as of 2014.

Taiwan only hopes to improve the country’s education with goals “to re-orient education toward positive social values, to reshape the education system into an effective model, to reset reasonable resources, to reconstruct partnerships and to solidify learning scholarship” between now and 2023.

Jacqueline Artz

Photo: Flickr

Education_Haiti

Although school attendance has increased within the past several years, education in Haiti remains a problem. More than 200,000 Haitian children do not go to school, and half of Haiti’s adult population is illiterate.

Because most schools in Haiti are privately operated without government regulation, the cost of tuition is taxing. In many cases, students are forced to take a year or more off between grades because they can’t afford to continue. Joseph Woaly, an alumni of the Haitian school system, said he completed primary school at age 17 and secondary school at 25.

Other challenges persist. Even some of the newest institutions are not up to code. School buildings lack basic necessities such as clean water and working lavatories. According to education officials, much more funding is needed to continue plans for reforming education in Haiti.

As in most impoverished countries, women receive fewer opportunities than do men in Haiti. The World Bank estimates that a 1 percent increase in the number of women receiving an education can increase a country’s financial growth by 0.3 percent.

In 2007, the World Bank and the Caribbean Development Bank started a tuition waiver program to help reform education in Haiti. The World Bank has allocated $24.1 million toward supporting the program from 2014 to 2017. The grant helps underprivileged families pay for the cost of primary school tuition and supplies.

This tuition supplementation program has enabled more children to enroll in school while simultaneously creating a need for more teachers, thus benefiting the Haitian job market. Unfortunately, most Haitian teachers are somewhat unqualified, having received little or no training.

Another effective initiative started in 2012. The Adolescent Girls Initiative (AGI) set out to reform education in Haiti by teaching young women the skills they need to obtain long-term employment. Technical trades are often geared toward males, but AGI challenged those stereotypes, training women in such trades as plumbing, construction, machinery and IT.

The development of soft skills like professionalism, self-esteem and leadership is also crucial to gaining and retaining a profession. AGI found that women who received training were more self-confident, developing better decision-making abilities and more optimistic outlooks for the future.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has also taken a deep interest in reforming education in Haiti. The organization has actively worked with the Ministry of Education in Haiti to maximize donor resources and improve national literacy levels. Over the past five years, USAID has helped Haitian children learn how to read, providing them with 85,000 workbooks, 3,700 teacher guides and curricula meeting international standards. USAID also reformed 19 schools to cater to the needs of disabled children.

Last year the World Bank promoted the idea of transferring some private schools into the public sector, hoping to increase enrollment among children who still cannot afford school fees. No notable progress has been made toward this initiative. The Haitian government maintains that there is no funding available for the project now, nor will there be within the foreseeable future.

Amy Whitman

Photo: Flickr

I Am SyriaI Am Syria is a nonprofit organization that promotes the interests and concerns of Syrians by educating the world about the Syrian conflict.

Many people around the world have developed a negative stereotype of Syrians, particularly due to the recent upsurge of refugees. In 2015, the total number of refugees shot up to 4 million contributing to the most severe humanitarian crisis in modern history.

Terror attacks that have occurred since then are commonly linked to the large numbers of infiltrated refugees and foreigners. However, despite popular belief, evidence shows that 80 percent of domestic acts of terrorism are committed by Americans.

The negative attitude toward Syrians originates from the media, from where Syrians have been labeled terrorists since March of 2011 when some Syrians assembled for a peaceful protest movement for democracy. In hopes of debunking the biased and inaccurate information being fed to people all over the world concerning Syrians, I Am Syria has made it their mission to educate young students with recent news and reliable articles written by Syrians in the movement through lesson plans.

The curriculum is intended to inform students of the facts involving the Islamic state and the refugee crisis, while also encouraging the students to preemptively brainstorm positive ways to generate change. Students are exposed to the suffering of the impoverished innocent Syrians, rather than the alarming work of the extremists. These types of images illicit emotions that, in turn, drive the students to want to do something to help.

The voices of those who need help in Syria are drowned out by the oppressive Syrian regime that manipulates media in its favor and distorts the story. I Am Syria seeks to mend the bond between people can help and those who are in need of help by removing the stereotypes and that accompany the inaccurate allegations made toward Syrians. What’s left is the story of innocent families who have encountered so much violence and anguish, and have fled their homes in search of a better life.

I Am Syria is tackling the issue of stereotyping Syrian refugees one classroom at a time, empowering the world’s youth by making them aware of the tragedies that are occurring in the world, opening the floor for discussion and coming up with solutions to derail the inaccurate images of Syrians and helping refugees reclaim their lives.

Kayla Mehl

Photo: Flickr

Prioritizing Education in Myanmar Moving Forward
The spring of 2016 has brought exciting changes for the citizens of Myanmar. Although Nobel Peace Prize Winner Aung San Suu Kyi is constitutionally ineligible to run for president, due the fact that her sons are of British nationality, she and her supporters have still found a way to impact the education system in the country.

A close friend and aid of Suu Kyi, Htin Kyaw, was elected into office. President Kyaw has given Suu Kyi a place in the cabinet, and she will oversee foreign affairs, as well as the reformation of education in Myanmar.

Myanmar’s new branch into democracy, breaking away from the debilitating rule of a military regime which abolished the once prominent higher education system, brings hope for proper education back to the people of Myanmar.

Primary education in Myanmar is mandatory and free to the public. However, for decades the education sector has been neglected, and it shows. The rule of a military regime, which lasted nearly half of a century, discouraged education amongst Myanmar’s citizens and invested little money or resources in the education system.

The constant conflict and poverty in Myanmar which ensued disrupted students from being able to attend school. The current students and graduates of Myanmar’s public education system have not been properly prepared.

Deepak Neopane, founder of City College Yangon, comments that the economy in Myanmar has recently rebounded, but the those entering into the workforce are unequipped with basic thinking skills and much of this influx of opportunity is going to waste.

With the National League for Democracy (NLD) at reigns of the government, a plan is in place to mend and improve education in Myanmar within the next five years. Beginning in the 2017/18 academic year, the grade structure will be reconfigured and increased to follow a 13-year format.

The goal for the curriculum moving forward is to expand and enhance problem-solving and critical thinking skills within the pupils. Though the budget is yet to be finalized, it is likely that following the last year’s investments in the education system that more significant increases are to be made.

The Myanmar education sector has been receiving grants from several humanitarian organizations including UNICEF, the British Council and the Japan International Cooperation Agency, to ensure the prosperity of education for the children in Myanmar moving forward.

Undoubtedly, the government’s agenda to revitalize education in Myanmar is promising. However, they do not deny that there will be hurdles to overcome. The Myanmar government has not neglected to see that every facet of the current education system will need updates and revision.

The plan includes re-training teachers to bring them all up to the modern regional level of teaching and reconfiguring existing schools to situate smaller class sizes, which will improve teacher to student ratios. The end-goal is to have education in Myanmar completely modernized and fully up to standard with regional accreditation by 2030.

Amy Whitman

Photo: Flickr

Africa_Digital_Education World Economic Forum

Digital education is a hot button topic in the United States, and last week, an international panel convened in Kigali, Rwanda, to discuss the efficacy of digitalizing African education systems. Held at the World Economic Forum on Africa, the friendly debate included education and governmental officials and digital education technology experts from around the world. Together, the panel discussed the two great hardships of African education—access to education and quality of education—in the context of a digital education revolution.

When some imagine the future of digital education, they see holograms and tablets, but the Digital Education panel put that idea to rest. “An educational overhaul isn’t feasible or realistic,” said Rapeland Rabana, founder of Rekindle Learning. “[We need to] look where we can build on what we already have,” she added.

In this way, struggling African governments will not be overwhelmed by new technological demands. Besides, according to TIME Magazine, only around 20 percent of Africans have access to the internet, and 40 percent don’t even have access to regular electricity. The argument can be seen that a hologram-touting educational reform system would do little in this environment.

One of the most important ideas discussed by the panel was that of privatized messaging platforms, like Messenger, WhatsApp or WeChat, as the digital basis for educational apps. Although attempting to privatize education could pose challenges of its own, Minister of Youth Jean Philbert Nsengimana pointed out that most African governments could not complete an educational transformation on their own. Instead, he said, “[We should] move away from the either-or debate and look at how the system can work together.”

Globally 57 million school-age children, many of whom are young girls, do not have the opportunity to attend school. Although the panel’s focus was digital education in Africa, the members did not forget that education is an issue outside of the continent.

Nsengimana brought this up and made it clear that he sees digital education as a means of inclusion for these educationless students, especially the young girls. Despite the logistical difficulties and the long implementation project, the Digital Education Panel at the World Economic Forum on Africa came to an encouragingly simple conclusion: by using the technologies that are already in place and focusing on accessibility in addition to advanced development, digital education tools will without a doubt be the future of education in Africa.

Sage Smiley

Photo: Flickr

Hewlett Foundation
The Hewlett Foundation was established by Hewlett-Packard co-founder William Hewlett and his wife Flora in 1966. Since its creation, the foundation has become one of the largest in the nation, with assets totaling $9 billion.

The Hewlett Foundation headquarters are located in Menlo Park, California, in a building that reflects the foundation’s pledge toward social and environmental change. It was certified Gold-level under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system, becoming the fifth building in the country to ever do so.

The foundation focuses on local issues such as education reform for the state of California as well as global poverty reduction. It also focuses on limiting the consequences of climate change, improving reproductive health in the developing world and advancing the field of philanthropy.

The Hewlett Foundation partners with grantee institutions, such as nonprofit organizations and government entities to reach their five programs’ goals.

The Education Program offers grants in order to increase economic and civic engagement through “deeper learning” education.

“We focus on a couple of really important leadership skills like ‘collaborate productively,’ critical thinking, ‘communicate powerfully’ and ‘complete projects effectively.’ Along with making sure students are keeping up with the content, they are getting these life skills that they’ll need to be successful in college and the workplace,” said Rahil Maharaj, a student of Impact Academy of Arts and Technology in Hayward, California that focuses on deeper learning skills.

According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, the Hewlett Foundation donated $113 million to the University of California, Berkeley in 2007 — the largest private donation a university had ever seen at that time.

The funds were used to create 100 new endowed professorships at the college and provide financial help to graduate students.

Three-year general operating grants are presented to organizations that work in research and analysis, communications, community organizing, advocacy or technical assistance to improve conditions for state policymaking in education.

The Environment Program works to conserve the ecological integrity of the North American West and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to minimize the impact of global climate change.

The Hewlett Foundation donated over $9 million to the Instituto de Energia e Meio Ambiente of Brazil in grants from 2007 to 2012 to fund projects promoting clean air and sustainable transportation policies in Brazil.

The Global Development and Population Program was created to help people around the globe develop their capabilities as successful members of society.

Grants offered by this program are used to promote responsible governance across the globe, to create sound policy in developing countries, to improve the quality of education and children’s learning overseas, to ensure international and domestic access to family planning and reproductive healthcare and to reduce teen pregnancy.

$3 million was donated by the Hewlett Foundation for building the capacity of African policymakers for reproductive health issues between 2010 and 2013.

The Performing Arts Program is unique to the San Francisco Bay Area, with grants that ensure a wide range of artistic disciplines are offered to people in order to ensure continuity and engagement in the arts.

These grants also provide California students with equal access to an arts education and help the state provide proper infrastructure for effective work. The Hewlett Foundation has donated over $255 million in grants over the last 15 years to reach these goals.

The Effective Philanthropy Group provides grants in order to increase and improve the information available to donors about nonprofit performance and to develop strategic philanthropy.

The Hewlett Foundation is a good example of an organization that is making a difference both on a local level and a global level.

Kelsey Lay

Sources: Hewlett Foundation 1, Hewlett Foundation 2, Hewlett Foundation 3, Hewlett Foundation 4, Hewlett Foundation 5, Hewlett Foundation 6, Hewlett Foundation 7, The Chronicle of Philanthropy
Photo: Flickr

japan
Japan is rethinking its higher education programs, forgoing liberal arts subjects in cooperation with a business-first society keen on better-skilled graduates.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s aspiration is to change Japan’s government-sanctioned universities into global frontrunners in scientific exploration or vocational training schools. Abe has called on Japan’s higher educational programs to “redefine their missions” and transform their expected criteria.

The 86 Japanese public universities were instructed by the ministry of education to send their plans to restructure their educational format by the end of June to continue receiving their funds contributed by the government.

In accordance with this decision for adjustment, many of the country’s companies have altered their training programs, counting on universities to train more for business skills. The expectation for young professionals with teamwork, managerial and social abilities is higher than ever in Japan.

This change is inspired by Abe’s decision to rejuvenate the country to become a world leader. The Prime Minister wants universities to include innovative schooling techniques that are more demanding of students for the betterment of the Japanese economy.

Despite Abe’s assurance of this success, many feel as though exempting liberal arts subjects will be detrimental to the experience and value of learning in higher education. This debate started long before Japan’s educational reformation, earning a lasting presence in the United States’ arguments over education. Nevertheless, Japan’s critics are worried about the quality of educational instruction because of the miscommunication between expectations of Japanese employers.

The Dean of Temple University’s Japan campus, Bruce Stronach, said that society needs people who contribute to all aspects of humanity, including social issues.

“That’s why those traditional fields like arts, literature, history and social sciences are also—and will always be—important,” Stronach said.

Despite Stronach’s negative reaction to these changes, not all Japanese educators are displeased with Abe’s declarations.

Katsushi Nishimura, a law professor at Ehime University in Japan, said that students need to learn how to work according to society’s expectations.

“We also need to come out of the ivory tower and listen to the real world,” he said.

According to Nishimura, the university’s funding for the humanities and education departments’ courses will be cut and given to an improved business training plan created by a board of business and academic leaders. Originally, according to Nishimura, the teaching staff was in charge of altering education courses.

In addition, Nishimura said that the new programs will highlight training for local industries such as tourism and fisheries.

Like Nishimura, Japanese educators will likely abide by Abe’s decisions. Education in Japan fueled the country’s rapid economic growth and is one of the driving forces toward the production of high technology.

No doubt, even without liberal arts courses, Japan will continue to be a large contributor to the international economy.

Fallon Lineberger

Sources: Ehime, OECD Observer, The Australian, Wall Street Journal
Photo: GaiginPot