(Nikkei: September 22, 2014 – p. 22)
Nezu Educational Foundation (NEF), which operates Musashi High School and Junior High School (for boys), has launched the Musashi-Temple RED [Research, Essay writing and Debate] Program, an extracurricular course for junior and senior high school students who wish to directly enroll in U.S. and European universities from high school. NEF Director Yasuyoshi Uemura wrote the following essay about the aim of the program for the Nikkei:
In recent years, Japanese people have been talking more and more about the need for “nurturing global human resources.” But I feel this concept differs slightly depending on the person talking about it.
The business community is concerned about such developments as so-called “Japan passing” and a decline in Japan’s international competitiveness. In an effort to carve out new markets, the entrance examination industry, faced with the declining birthrate, is encouraging preparatory school students [to study abroad] by saying: “Harvard University is a better choice than the University of Tokyo.” Such moves are aimed at benefitting adults, not students.
Why is global education needed now?
Suppose there is a high school student who wishes to work in the motion picture industry. Normally, that student would major in film at a Japanese university. However, the movie industry itself has become globalized. Therefore, it would make sense for that student to consider the University of Southern California, a well-known university for film study, as one of his options for higher education.
The same goes for other subjects, such as space engineering and biological science. The time has come for Japanese students to include top-class universities in other countries in their college choices.
Musashi High School and Junior High School, founded as Japan’s first seven-year secondary school, has focused on second foreign language education from early on. At present, the school has German, French, Chinese, and Korean language courses [in addition to English]. Each year, the school sends about 10% of its students who learn a second foreign language to its affiliated schools in various countries for about two months.
Every year, I receive training reports written by students in various languages. I am always stunned by the quality of the reports.
Musashi has made efforts to globalize education in this way. Even so, there aren’t many students who go to colleges in other countries. Every year only a small number or sometimes no students enroll in universities overseas. There is a gap between the linguistic ability required to clear Japanese university entrance exams and that required by universities abroad. This gap makes it difficult for Japanese students to directly enter universities overseas.
To put it simply, the linguistic abilities that students acquire through Japan’s secondary education are insufficient to enable them to speak freely with their instructors and fellow students right away when they enter university abroad. There are many cases in which Japanese university students who study abroad have to undergo language training before starting their actual coursework.
This is why Musashi created the extracurricular program. The keyword is “immersion education” (learning in English instead of learning English). We selected science as the subject matter.
Why science? Because science is a field that people around the world can discuss in a common manner regardless of their cultural and religious backgrounds. Our school aims to enable students to think in English and naturally acquire the ability to speak English through learning science in English in an enjoyable way. Eventually, our school’s education and the extracurricular program will enable students to directly enter university overseas and study abroad.
We chose Temple University Japan Campus as our partner to develop the program because it is the only academic institution that is based in the United States and has a campus in Minato Ward, Tokyo, that has the knowhow to teach academic English to junior and senior high school students and can stably provide foreign teachers.
Another feature of the program is that we encourage not only Musashi students but also male and female students living in the Metropolitan area to participate in it. There are not as many students who are interested in studying at overseas universities as people think. We wanted to make the extracurricular program a venue for that small group of students to gather and encourage one another as they study after school or during summer vacation. (Abridged)