Japan Wants Indian style education for their KIDS
Despite an improved economy, Japan is suffering a crisis of confidence these days about its ability to compete with its emerging Asian rivals, China and India. One result has been a growing craze for Indian education in this fad obsessed nation.
The Indian boomlet reflects the insecurity of many Japanese in their schools, which once turned out students who consistently ranked at the top of international tests. But now many people here are looking for lessons from India, the country many see as the world's ascendant education superpower.
Bookstores are filled with titles like Extreme Indian Arithmetic Drills and The Unknown Secrets of the Indians. Newspapers carry reports of Indian children memorizing multiplication tables upto 99 times 99, compared to Japan's relatively lax elementary school requirement of knowing nine times nine.
And Japan's few Indian international schools are reporting a surge in applications from Japanese families.
At the Little Angels English Academy & International Kindergarten, the textbooks are from India, most of the teachers are South Asian, and classroom posters depict animals out of Indian tales, including dancing elephants in plumed turbans. The kindergarten students even colour maps of India in the green and saffron of its flag.
Little Angels is located in this Tokyo suburb. Only one of its 45 students is Indian; most are Japanese. "My son's level is higher those than those of other Japanese children," said Eiko Kikutake, whose son Hayato, 5, attends Little Angels.
"Indian education is really amazing! This wouldn't have been possible at a Japanese kindergarten."
The thought of viewing another Asian country as a model in education would have been unheard of just a few years ago, say education experts.