Friday,22 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1365, (19 - 25 October 2017)
Friday,22 February, 2019
Issue 1365, (19 - 25 October 2017)

Ahram Weekly

They don’t teach Japanese

Mai Samih finds out what’s all the fuss about the new Japanese schools in Cairo


Education will start in Japanese schools after a two-week introduction period
Education will start in Japanese schools after a two-week introduction period

This Sunday, students began an introductory two weeks at their new and controversial Japanese schools.

A total of 29,703 students applied to enter, Assistant Minister of Education for National Projects Hind Galal told Al-Ahram Weekly. Of those, only 1,800 have so far been accepted.

“These schools are awesome. I wish all schools were like that,” says Noha, mother of a six-year-old who has been accepted at one of Egypt’s new Japanese schools.

“I believe that the Japanese educational model is more like our Egyptian model in the 1940s in terms of activities and teaching children cleanliness. Had we revised our educational model of the 1940s and re-implemented them we would not have needed any model from abroad,” commented Maha Mohamed, another mother.

The enthusiasm of these mothers reflects the high demand for such schools. But ever since Japanese schools opened for business in August, they have been the source of debate on social media and on TV. They neither teach Japanese nor do they have Japanese teachers or a Japanese curriculum. The whole idea is that they implement the Tokkatsu Plus system with the assistance of Japanese expertise.

The Tokkatsu Plus system aims at harmonising the development of the mind and body of a child while strengthening his or her personality, enhancing positive and practical behaviour, and working with children to build a better life. It also aims at helping them form human relationships in society and enhancing the ability of children to self-develop.

This is achieved through group activities that the school organises like sports and cultural days, teaching children personal cleanliness, classroom cleanliness, organisation and taking turns in class responsibilities. This helps a child be considerate and enables him to accomplish certain tasks with the help of others. 

So far, Galal said, there are two Japanese schools in Cairo: the Fifth Settlement and Al Shorouq 2 districts, and one in each Alexandria, Assiut, Minya, Beni Sweif, Suez and Sharqeya. She explained that the Educational Buildings Authority (EBA) gives the Ministry of Education the building and they start to refit it to conform to Japanese standards. Some buildings were built especially for the Japanese system of learning while others were already schools.

Twelve existing schools were chosen. Among them, two are in Cairo, in Sayeda Zeinab and Helmeyat Al-Zaytoun. The system was implemented experimentally last year in these two schools.

Students were accepted according to standards that include the geographical proximity of their places of residence to the school and the appropriate age of the student, said Galal, adding that older children were given priority.

She said the syllabi in the Japanese-based schools are the same as experimental language schools. The only difference is that the Tokkatsu Plus system is implemented in and outside of class in the form of activities. “Out of the 200 activities that are part of Tokkatsu Plus, we only chose four or five activities to be implemented in the schools,” Galal said.

The Japanese and Egyptian partners intend to start with experimental language schools to be used as an example for all other schools. Schools are chosen by the Ministry of Education according to certain criteria such as the technical state of the school and the number of students. Some experts in the Japanese educational model will visit Cairo to oversee the implementation. Egyptian teachers are also being trained. Around 20 have received training in Japan on implementing the new model. They will pass on the knowledge they acquired by teaching other teachers what they learnt.

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