Official Development Assistance (ODA)
Opening Remarks by H.E. Katsutoshi Kaneda
Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan
On the occasion of the Japan Education Forum III

February 9, 2006

Good Morning, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

My name is Katsutoshi Kaneda, Senior-Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs. On behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it is my great pleasure to welcome all of you to the Third Japan Education Forum. I would particularly like to thank the speakers and panelists from Africa, Asia and UNESCO as well as from Japan for their participation.

Without doubt, education is the engine for national development, by fostering human resources equipped with a high level of learning and ability to flexibly respond to change.

Looking back, Japan has achieved development by promoting human resources development through education as the foundation of nation-building. After the Meiji Restoration about 140 years ago, Japan had managed to achieve modernization in a relatively short time by learning from the technologies and legal system in Europe and the United States. It is said that one of the major factors that contributed to such an achievement was the existence of a popular learning system called "terakoya" before the Meiji Restoration, providing basic skills among the common people such as reading, calculation and abacus. More recently, Japan's successful post-war reconstruction and rapid economic growth since 1945 was possible through investments in education.

Based on such experiences, Japan attaches importance to education in Official Development Assistance (ODA). Japan has actively been contributing to the realization of "Education for All" based on its "Basic Education for Growth Initiative (BEGIN)," which was announced at the G8 Kananaskis Summit in 2002. The three priority areas of BEGIN are access to education, quality of education and management of education. During the period between 2002 and 2004, Japan has provided approximately US$ 928 million in support of basic education in the developing countries.

The goals of "Education for All" include not only access to education but also providing quality education. It is very significant that the focus of this forum is the quality of teachers because, from Japan's own experience, learning outcomes of pupils depends to a large extent on the capacity of teachers.

It is my sincere hope that there will be active and fruitful discussion during the Forum, and moreover, that the participants can learn from each others' experiences.

I thank you for your kind attention.