When it comes to improving the education system, Japan has a lot to teach us
Education teaches us how we can illuminate our lives. It alleviates the darkness from society. A better education prototype can transform the lifestyle and settlement of a nation.
Japan is one of the best examples of this, treating education like a cable that transforms knowledge from people to people, society to society, community to community.
It is essential to understand the method of teaching and the sources of our learning, as well as how we can learn from those sources. In general, we learn from a good teacher through teaching, and also through reading books, watching movies, playing sports, visiting historical places, and from the environment and nature.
In 1868, after the Meiji restoration in Japan, they had taken different initiatives for their development -- constitutional renovation, law development, industrial development, agricultural management, land distribution, education system development, etc.
Among all initiatives, development of their education system was the most important initiative. They knew that without education, development, and freedom, economic solvency is impractical. They had taken ideas from the educational curriculum of the US and educational administration system of France.
They brought specialists from different countries, such as a law specialist from France, education curriculum specialist from the US, medical specialist from Germany, marine specialist from England, and so on.
In Bangladesh, we are dancing within the various types of education system where there are different branches as well -- Bangla medium, English medium, and madrasa education.
I think different systems of education hinder our sustainable and collective development.
The unemployment problem is increasing day by day due to these various methods of education, as well as a lack of link between educational institutions and industrial sectors. We are losing our ethical and social foundation day by day.
As a result, different social crimes are increasing in our country. But the unique education system implemented by Emperor Meiji accelerated Japan’s collective development.
The Meiji government started a two-layer education system, where the first is obligatory primary education for all, and the second is secondary and higher education just for the upper classes of society. In 1871, they established the Ministry of Education. They also passed the education law in 1872, where the main aim was to implement Western education in Japan.
They established eight universities, 256 secondary schools, as well as 5,000 primary schools. It is important to note that in 1872, they established a teachers training institute in Tokyo to the number of trained teachers.
Then the Japanese government invited Professor Marion Scott from the US as a specialist of teacher’s education to meet the demands of the Meiji government. Marion Scott’s main concern was how trained teachers could provide a better quality of education.
In 1880, the Meiji government introduced a gazette where they combined Confucian and Western education systems. In 1881, the Ministry of Education issued Guidelines for the Course of Study for Elementary Schools. In 1885, the ministerial government was established.
After that, they assigned Mori Arinori as the education minister, who had experience regarding the Western education system. He introduced four types of education institutions in Japan: The elementary school order, the middle school order, the normal school order, and the Imperial school order.
He emphasized faith, ethics,obedience, patriotism for the primary and secondary levels. The education methods of Mori had accelerated modernization and national ethics in Japan.
Curricula for boys and girls were different. For boys: Japanese language, literature, mathematics, economics, international relation, political science, social science, government policy, etc where main aim was to build educated and skilled citizens for economic astuteness in Japan.
For girls: Japanese language, literature, mathematics, home economics, management, decoration, and the main aim was to build qualified wives and educated mothers in Japan.
In 1941, during World War II, elementary schools were renamed “national schools,” and the military atmosphere was strengthened in the schools.
On the basis of this, children were trained as subjects of the emperor, and various subjects were grouped together into four subject areas, namely national studies (morals, Japanese language, Japanese history, geography), science and mathematics (arithmetic, science), physical training (gymnastics, martial arts), and arts (music, calligraphy, drawing, craft, dressmaking, house-keeping).
For higher classes only, a further subject area in the form of vocational training (agriculture, industry, commerce, fisheries) was added, making five subject areas in all. However, before this subject grouping could actually be implemented, the war came to an end.
The literacy rate of the total population on the eve of the Meiji period was somewhere in the region of 40%, but by the end, the literacy rate had doubled to about 80%.
We have not seen such a strategy in Bangladesh. We can learn different things from Japan. There is no innovation in the education system of our country.
The Japanese authorities continue to use different innovative tools to establish a suitable learning environment. Teachers are very friendly, and they are capable of creating learning environments which are very interesting to Japanese students.
They are also taught issues as diverse as justice, morality, friendships -- things which the Bangladeshi education system completely lack.
Instead, the institutes within the system are more concerned with how much money they can make.
Red tape, nepotism, question leaks before exam -- all these continue to harm our education system. I think it is high time we modify the education system in our country and take a leaf out of the education development strategy of Meiji government of Japan.
Shishir Reza is an Environmental Analyst and Associate Member of the Bangladesh Economic Association.