BEGIN: Basic Education for Growth Initiative
"Spirit of the One Hundred Sacks of Rice"1
The prosperity of a country, the growth of cities-everything depends on people. Build schools and develop people of ability.
Torasaburo Kobayashi, high-ranking advisor of the Nagaoka clan (1870)
From the play "One Hundred Sacks of Rice" by Yuzo Yamamoto
At the Genoa Summit last year, Prime Minister Koizumi made an appeal for the importance of education in nation-building, introducing a Japanese story about the "spirit of the one hundred sacks of rice." As is symbolized by this spirit, investment in education, underlain by a commitment to ownership, is a vital means for poverty reduction in developing countries. With this recognition, Japan has put together its approaches for future Japanese assistance in the field of basic education in this "BEGIN: Basic Education for Growth Initiative," which Japan will announce on the occasion of the Kananaskis Summit.
1. Importance of Basic Education2 and Efforts for Achieving "Education for All"
(1) Basic education is essential not only for human development-that is, empowering each individual with the necessary knowledge and capabilities to be able to choose by that person's own predilection her own future and make an appropriate way of life for herself as a member of society. It is also crucial for the development of developing countries from the viewpoint of fostering human resources for nation-building, as the story about the "spirit of the one hundred sacks of rice" seeks to convey. Basic education is also vital for cultivating understanding and acceptance of other peoples and cultures and for building a foundation for international cooperation.
(2) Bearing in mind the importance of basic education above, Japan has provided positive support to developing countries in this area through the construction of school buildings, the provision of educational equipment and materials, and assistance for development of curricula and textbooks, teacher training, and school administration.3 Japan has also been actively supporting the activities of international organizations such as UNESCO and UNICEF, and providing assistance for education through its contributions to the World Bank and various regional development banks.
(3) Improvements have been made in the educational conditions in developing countries over the past half century.4 However, due to rapid increases in the world's population, 113 million children of primary school age are still not enrolled in school and 880 million people remain illiterate throughout the world, with the seriously festering problem that two-thirds of those are women.5 Within these figures, the indices for Africa are low, as the adult literacy rate in Africa is only 54 percent and the enrolment rate for primary school around 74 percent.6
In light of this situation, the international community has been stepping up its efforts to cooperate for achieving universal access to basic education: the World Education Forum held in April 2000 set forth six major goals for education (the Dakar Framework for Action7); the 2000 U.N. Millennium Summit adopted the Millennium Development Goals;8 and the May 2002 Special Session of the General Assembly on Children fixed specific targets for improving education.9 In addition, at last year's Genoa Summit, the G8 Task Force on Education10 was set up to pursue the goals specified in the Dakar Framework, and the Task Force is putting together recommendations on measures for promoting efforts to attain Education for All (EFA).
(4) Thus, the international community is united in pursuing its common goal of ensuring that the youths, who will be bearing the responsibilities for future countries, are able to have an equal opportunity to receive basic education of high quality. From this viewpoint and also keeping in mind the importance of education for ensuring "human security"11, Japan will, as a major donor country and a nation that has long recognized the importance of education and reflected this in its national policies, strengthen its support, in collaboration with other G8 countries and the international community, to the efforts of developing countries to promote basic education and move forward toward the realization of Education for All, through the Initiative outlined herein.
2. Basic Philosophy
Japan's future assistance in the field of basic education will be carried out based on the following basic philosophy.
Emphasis on a commitment by the governments of developing countries and support of ownership
For the attainment of the Dakar goals, nothing is more essential than a strong political commitment by the governments of developing countries themselves, and their self-help efforts led by this keen purposefulness are requisite for the expansion of access to basic education and the improvement of the quality of education. The objective of Japan's support lies in respect for, as well as the fostering of, this kind of ownership by developing countries. To this end, Japan will provide assistance for the building of essential educational and other systems as well as for human resources development. In extending this support, Japan will carefully consider the unique circumstances of each region, country, and district; particularly at the actual site of implementation, Japan's cooperation will be guided by a willingness to stand in the counterpart's position and see things from that same perspective.
Recognition of cultural diversity and promotion of mutual understanding
Cultural diversity is indispensable for ensuring a rich texture of life. As the progress of globalization tends to produce a standardization of economies and lifestyles, the fostering of interest in, and understanding and acceptance of, different cultures from an early age has no small significance. In view of this cultural role that basic education can play in giving children the power to think judiciously and cultivating their ability to understand other peoples and cultures through dialogue, Japan will pay full attention to such role when extending its support.
Assistance based on collaboration and cooperation with the international community (partnership)
For the attainment of Education For All, the efforts of developing countries to secure the widest possible participation of their citizens from all levels of society are essential; at the same time, all of the stakeholders in the international community supporting those efforts-bilateral donors, international organizations, NGOs, and so on-must collaborate and cooperate together and demonstrate an effective partnership for development. In particular, Japan will attach great importance to collaboration with international organizations like UNESCO, that bear a central role for the attainment of the Dakar Framework goals, and World Bank. In addition, Japan will promote collaboration in assistance among donors on a country level and participate in sector-wide approaches12 in the education sector. Furthermore, from the viewpoint of ensuring effective utilization of limited resources, Japan will support South-South cooperation, which promotes cooperation among neighboring countries sharing similar cultural and linguistic backgrounds.
Promotion of community involvement and the utilization of local resources
In order to expand access to basic education and ensure the promotion of sustainable educational services, the understanding of local communities, particularly the parents of school-age children, on the contents and system of education is vital. Accordingly, Japan will encourage the active involvement of local communities in the formulation and implementation of educational development plans. Moreover, it is important that not only children but all members of local communities, including parents, youths, and adults, are targeted for education. In these efforts, Japan makes positive use of local resources to fit local needs.
Linkages with other development sectors
Basic education is the foundation for wide-ranging socio-economic development, and it is deeply linked to other development sectors such as poverty alleviation, safe water supply, health care (including measures against infectious diseases), and sanitation. By strengthening linkages with these sectors, basic education can become a more integral part of the comprehensive efforts for promoting community development.
Utilization of Japan's experience in education
Considering education to be the basis of nation-building and having promoted the spread of public education and the continuing improvement of the quality of education in tandem, Japan will utilize its experience in education in its assistance and attempt to make it of practical value for the development of education in developing countries. Recognized that the educational needs of developing countries are varied and influenced by the tradition and culture of each individual country, Japan will utilizze its experiences in its cooperation for education based on mutual dialogue with respective recipient country.
In addition, Japan will promote exchanges of teachers and students between schools in Japan and developing countries, aiming at deepening the friendship between the two countries.
3. Priority Areas
Japan will make Access, Quality and Governance & Management the future pillars of its assistance for education. Priority areas will be identified from the followings in accordance with the situation of each developing country.
Assistance for ensuring Access to education
Construction of school buildings and related facilities serving various needs13
- Promotion of construction of school buildings and related facilities that serve various needs faced by local community (toilets, water supply facilities, etc.),
- Promotion of active participation by community residents in construction of facilities from the planning stage on up,
- Promotion of utilization of educational facilities by entire community (as library, disaster prevention facility, community center, etc.).
Assistance for elimination of gender disparities (girls' education)
- Construction of girls' schools in areas with high needs,
- Assistance for development of curricula, teaching materials and teaching methodology to eliminate gender bias in education,
- Training of teachers for girls' education.
Assistance for non-formal education (promotion of literacy education)14
- Promotion of literacy education projects, particularly assistance to NGOs involved in this field,
- Assistance for raising the literacy levels of adult women to develop their capabilities. Active utilization of information and communication technology (ICT)
- Active utilization of ICT for education, including for promotion of education in remote areas and distance learning.
Assistance for improving Quality of education
Assistance for science and mathematics education
- Training and dispatch of science and mathematics teachers,
- Assistance for development of curricula, textbooks, teaching materials.
Assistance for teacher training15
- Fostering of teachers at teacher training schools, etc., and training to improve capabilities of in-service teachers through dispatch of experts, training in Japan, etc.
Assistance for improvement of school administration and operation 16
- Improvement of school administrative and operational capabilities through, among others, the active participation of community residents therein.
Improvement of Management of education 17
Enhancement of support for formulation of education policies and education development plans
- Support for formulation of country-level education policies and education plans, clearly integrated within national development plans.
Assistance for improvement of educational administration system
- Support for improving educational administration system such as, training of educational planners, statistics and monitoring, school mapping, etc.
4. New Efforts by Japan
(1) Utilization of in-service teachers and establishment of "cooperation bases"
Many positive results have been achieved by Japan's cooperation for science and mathematics education, teacher training, school administration, while are the pillars of Japan's assistance for improving the quality of education in developing countries. In order to enhance its support in these areas and facilitate its cooperation for this "software" of education, Japan will make positive use in its assistance to recipient countries of its in-service teachers possessing practical experience at Japanese schools and capabilities.
Moreover, in order to build up and share the experiences and knowledge gained from Japan's past cooperation in education, develop models of cooperation, and transfer systematically this expertise to frontline teachers, Japan will establish "bases" of cooperation whereby certain universities will serve as focal points to which other universities, NGOs, and so on will collaborate to strengthen the overall domestic cooperation system in education.
(2) Promotion of wide-ranging collaboration with international frameworks
Support to UNESCO
- Japan will continue to support UNESCO's EFA activities through contributions to various UNESCO trust funds18 set up by Japan.
Support to UNICEF
- As a follow-up to the U.N. Special Session of the General Assembly on Children, Japan will continue to support UNICEF's projects for the education of girls.19
Consideration on World Bank's Fast Track Initiative20
- Japan will take into account World Bank's Fast Track Initiative in strengthening its support for basic education based on this Initiative.
Participation in the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA)21
- Japan will announce its intention to participate in ADEA, a network of Sub-Saharan African countries, donors, international organizations, etc. organized for exchanging information and considering educational policies in Africas. Japan will support a creation of a working group on science and mathematics education in ADEA.
(3) Support for education for post-conflict nation-building
In the process of post-conflict nation-building in war-torn regions, education not only serves as a foundation for the recovery and rehabilitation of the affected countries, but also promotes mutual understanding of historical, religious, and ethnic issues and plays a great role for long-term development. With this in mind, in its assistance for post-conflict rehabilitation, Japan will consider positively its support in the field of education based closely on local needs. In particular, responding to the results of International Conference on Reconstruction Assistance to Afghanistan held in Japan in January 2002, Japan will promote its support to address urgent needs in education in Afghanistan such as the improvement of educational environment at schools, teacher training including female teachers, etc.
1. "Spirit of the one hundred sacks of rice"
At the beginning of the Meiji period, the desperately impoverished Nagaoka fiefdom received one hundred sacks of rice as relief aid. One of the leaders of the clan, Torasaburo Kobayashi, counseled that if they just distributed the rice to the fiefdom's samurai and residents, the rice would be gone in a few days. Instead he proposed to use the rice to secure funds to build a school, and thus to increase one hundred sacks of rice to thousands or tens of thousands of sacks of rice in the future. The plan was carried out, and as a result, a steady stream of valuable human resources was produced by the school. This foresight is called the "spirit of the one hundred sacks of rice" in Japan, and it emphasizes that investment in education is one of the most vital investments for nation-building.
2. Basic Education
Basic education aims at ensuring a person's acquisition of knowledge, values and skills that will become the basis for his or her life-long study. For the most part, basic education points to primary education, early childhood care and education, and adult literacy education, but there is no fixed conceptualization of it; for example, the definition of primary education itself varies according to country. (In Asia, there are many cases in which basic education refers to education up through secondary school, while in Africa, there are countries in which primary education lasts for only three years. There are great differences according to circumstances of the countries.)
3. Japan's efforts through ODA
In August 1999, Japan released its "Medium-Term Policy on Official Development Assistance," a policy document that set priority issues and sectors for Japan's ODA, the direction of Japan's assistance by region, methods of aid, and so on. This policy specified basic education as one of the issues to be given high priority in Japan's assistance. The following section from the document outlines the forms of support Japan has and will be extending in this area.
"(1) In addition to hardware-oriented assistance for the construction of schools and the provision of equipment and materials, Japan will upgrade its advisory assistance in both the areas of course development and educational administration, including assistance for the enhancement of system and capacity building in school administration, curriculum and teaching materials development, and teacher training.
(2) Japan will pay special attention to supporting basic education for girls.
(3) Active efforts will be made to utilize the resources of the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers and to collaborate with NGOs for promoting the education of local communities, as well as their participation in the implementation of assistance projects.
(4) Japan will make efforts to ensure that assistance for basic education contributes to the improvement of vocational training and worker capacities in response to local needs and conditions."
4. Improvement in education situation
In the 50 years following the Second World War, the proportion of school-age children not receiving primary education has been halved, and the adult literacy rate has climbed from just under half to two-thirds of all adults. (From OECD/DAC, Shaping the 21st Century: The Contribution of Development Cooperation, May, 1996; UNDP, Human Development Report, 1997.)
5. World Bank, Education Sector Strategy (1999).
6. UNESCO, World Education Report (2000).
7. Dakar Framework for Action goals
The six goals set in the Dakar Framework for Action adopted at the World Education Forum held in Dakar, Senegal in April 2000 are as follows:
(1) Expanding and improving comprehensive early childhood care and education;
(2) Ensuring that by 2015 all children have access to and complete free and compulsory primary education of good quality;
(3) Ensuring that the learning needs of young people and adults are met;
(4) Achieving a 50 percent improvement in levels of adult literacy by 2015 and equitable access to basic and continuing education for all adults;
(5) Eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005 and achieving gender equality in education by 2015;
(6) Improving the quality of education.
8. Millennium Development Goals
Adopted at the 2000 U.N. Millennium Summit, these development goals aim at poverty reduction in developing countries. The Millennium Development Goals consist of 18 development targets related to various areas of development, including education, poverty reduction, health care (infectious diseases), the environment, and market access, and specify 48 indicators.
9. The Special Session of the General Assembly on Children
The Special Session of the General Assembly on Children was held at United Nations headquarters in New York on May 8-10, 2002, with the participation of 187 countries (65 heads of state). On the final day, May 10, the session's outcome document, A World Fit for Children, which sets the agenda for the international community's efforts for the next ten years to protect and promote the rights of children and improve their welfare, was adopted by consensus. The outcome document sets four priority areas: "Promoting healthy lives," "Providing quality education," "Protecting against abuse, exploitation, and violence," and "Combating HIV/AIDS." It also specifies concrete aims and strategies for achieving them for each of those areas. The following are the six targets set for education.
"(1) Expand and improve comprehensive early childhood care and education, for girls and boys, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children;
(2) Reduce the number of primary school-age children who are out of school by 50 percent and increase net primary school enrolment or participation in alternative, good quality primary education programmes to at least 90 percent by 2010;
(3) Eliminate gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005; and achieve gender equality in education by 2015, with a focus on ensuring girls' full and equal access to and achievement in basic education of good quality;
(4) Improve all aspects of the quality of education so that children and young people achieve recognized and measurable learning outcomes especially in numeracy, literacy and essential life skills;
(5) Ensure that the learning needs of all young people are met through access to appropriate learning and life skills programmes;
(6) Achieve a 50 percent improvement in levels of adult literacy by 2015, especially for women."
10. G8 Task Force on Education
The G8 Task Force on Education was established at last year's Genoa Summit to compile recommendations on how the G8 could best support the achievement of the goals of the Dakar Framework for Action, particularly ensuring access to free and compulsory primary education by 2015 and eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005. Senior advisors from the field of education comprising the Task Force have held six meetings, and their recommendations will be announced at the Kananaskis Summit.
11. Japan's policy on "Human Security"
The concept of "human security" is a new one that was proposed by the UNDP in its 1994 Human Development Report. There are various definitions of "human security," and Japan's conceptualization of it is outlined below.
(1) Human security means protecting the lives, livelihoods, and dignity of individual human beings from threats; it means strengthening efforts to focus on each and every person so that each individual can realize the rich potential he or she possesses.
(2) The international community currently faces a number of threats and challenges, such as poverty, environmental problems, conflicts, anti-personnel landmines, refugee problems, narcotics, infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS, and so on. In order to deal with the diversifying post-Cold War threats to the international community, all stakeholders in the international community, including not only governments but also international organizations, NGOs and other members of civil society, are required to cooperate one another, and to build and sustain societies in which each human being is able to make the most of his or her latent capabilities. It is this that the idea of human security, which is one of important perspectives of Japan's foreign policy, is aiming toward.
12. Sector-wide Approaches (SWAps)
Until very recently, donor countries and international organizations have carried out their development assistance based on their own respective plans. Under such a situation, there are cases in which there is inadequate coordination among individual projects, and, compounded by the problem of recipient countries' absorptive capacities, the extension of effective assistance cannot be achieved. Because of that, the sector-wide approaches whereby donors and recipient countries cooperate in formulating and implementing coordinated development plans ("programmes") for each particular area ("sector"), e.g., health care and education, has been proposed. SWAps have especially become a mainstream approach for Sub-Saharan Africa.
13. Construction of school buildings and related facilities serving various needs
Particularly because of the shortage of classrooms for primary education in developing countries, schools are compelled to have two or even three sessions of classes on the same day. Under such conditions, the provision of basic school facilities is indispensable for expanding basic education. Utilizing its yen loans, project-type grant aid, and grant assistance for grassroots projects, Japan will continue as before its "hardware" assistance for the construction of school buildings and provision of equipment and materials. In extending such assistance, Japan will heighten the added value of educational facilities in order to improve the educational environment as well as to increase the practicality and usefulness of those facilities for the community, while giving due attention to ensuring the maintenance and continued use of the facilities. Such added values include, among others, providing toilets, water supply facilities, athletic grounds, etc.; enabling the schools to be used as bases for disaster prevention [e.g., shelters during disasters]; and providing them with facilities so they can serve as community gathering places. Furthermore, Japan's assistance will combine in an integral way this provision of "hard" support with "soft" support for improving the quality of education-e.g. "school health"-through the dispatch of advisors and specialists and other assistance schemes.
14. Assistance for non-formal education
Providing effective and flexible opportunities for education to people having difficulties in accessing the formal educational system is essential for the achievement of Education for All. In particular in supporting non-formal education in remote or impoverished areas having no schools, Japan will actively collaborate and cooperate, based on local circumstances, with NGOs engaged in field-level assistance.
15. Assistance for teacher training
Many outcomes of education depend on the skill and enthusiasm of the teacher. Based on this, Japan will consider strengthening its support for fostering, training, and retraining of teachers, school administrators and education administrative officials through training in Japan, the dispatch of experts, and national scholarship programs for study in Japan.
16. Assistance for improvement of school administration and operation
The improvement of the quality of education at schools is the key to providing effective basic education. In order to enhance support for this, Japan will study further assistance for upgrading school education, based on its experiences up to now, while also keeping in mind the collaboration with its policy support at a macro-level. Such assistance would include support for the improvement of school administrative and operational capabilities and the dispatch of science and mathematics teachers through the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers.
17. Improvement of management of education
Japan will attach great importance to extending cooperation for education that takes into consideration the entire sector. Such cooperation includes, among others, the formulation of national action plans towards 'Education for All' and other education plans or education-sector programmes at a national level, basic surveys at regional levels for those plans such as school mapping and micro-planning, and advisory support to and training of education policy makers in developing countries. In providing its support, Japan will consider the linkage between education and the overall national development plans of the recipient country, including Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP), and pays special attention to whether educational plans are clearly integrated within the national development plans.
18. Trust Funds established by Japan at UNESCO
With the aim of widely and positively supporting the activities of UNESCO, Japan has established and provided contributions to various UNESCO trust funds. The following Trust Funds are supporting EFA.
- Japanese Trust Fund for the Capacity-building of Human Resources
- Trust Fund for Education for All
- Trust Fund for Information Technology Education
- Special Trust Fund for AIDS Education
19. Support for activities by UNICEF
With the particular aim of supporting girls' access to basic education, Japan has been contributing approximately U.S.$1 million annually since 1995 to educational projects for girls (two projects per year) implemented by UNICEF.
20. World Bank's Fast Track Initiative
This initiative is included in the EFA Action Plan released by the joint World Bank/IMF Development Committee in April 2002 and aims at supporting low-income countries which are at risk of not achieving the EFA goals without external support. The World Bank announced in mid-June 18 countries as possible target countries for the Initiative.
21. Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA)
ADEA is a network launched in 1988 with the aim of discussing educational policies for Africa and exchanging relevant information in order to promote the educational development in Africa. Its secretariat is located in UNESCO's International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP). ADEA holds biennial general assemblies that are attended by education ministers of African countries, education officials and experts from donor agencies, and representatives from education-related NGOs. Around 250 persons, including representatives from 45 African countries, donor agencies, and NGOs, attended the 6th general assembly held in October 2001. As Japan has been actively extending assistance in the field of education to many African countries, Japan's participation in ADEA has been highly anticipated for some time.
Back to Index