Photograph — UNICEF

Japan and Egypt have agreed to spend 7.5 million Egyptian pounds to support the next phase of Tokkatsu, the Japanese all-comer skills acquisition and self-esteem builder program. Egypt’s education ministry announced the agreement in a statement, with Egyptian Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr, Minister of Education and Technical Education Tarek Shawky, and Japanese Ambassador Masaki Noke all joint signatories to the agreement. The grant is intended to build additional technical and vocational cadres to support the next phase of Tokkastu in Egypt.

Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah El Sisi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinji Abe shook hands on an Egypt-Japan Education partnership when Sisi visited Japan in 2016, promising to expand cooperation in education, as well as scientific research and technology. After that, the government made plans to set up 200 Egyptian-Japanese Schools (EJS) all over Egypt, where kids are taught the Japanese curriculum of Whole Child Development through special non-academic activities. $169 million of Egypt’s $182 million education exchange agreement with Japan is directed at the EJS.

Tokkastu is an educational system known to develop the student all-around, strengthening a learner’s self-belief, confidence, teamwork and collaboration, responsibility-taking, as well as hygiene values. Learners are also encouraged to make plans and detail how to implement them, with an emphasis on how the solution is arrived at. It aims to make the process of thinking creatively an enjoyable and communal one by repeating the benefits of measuring what is achieved against what one set out to achieve. It is usually taught to a class of no more than forty, snuck between regular academic classes.

Japanese Ambassador to Egypt, Masaki Noke, said in September 2018, that the Japanese education system would teach students the main principles of discipline, commitment and time management. At the time, the Japanese International Cooperation Agency had dispatched teachers to Egypt to train over 20,000 teachers on the Japanese system. Stressing the system’s ability to develop the learner’s outside-the-box thinking, Noke said, “The impact quality education has on society is of paramount importance to a country’s development. Egypt and Japan are working closely together on educational partnerships such as the Egypt-Japan Education Partnership, which encompasses early childhood, basic, technical and higher education.”

Experts agreeTarek Nour El Deen, an education expert, said that the Japanese education model can lift Egypt. “The Japanese model creates a productive and attractive learning environment that boosts school discipline, supported by the latest technologies. It also has an assessment system that measures student understanding and critical thinking rather than memorization,” he said.

Noting Tokkastu’s expertise at motivating students to enjoy studying, Deen said, “The system also helps students learn subjects by themselves as well as depend on themselves to accomplish their daily duties.”

Ibrahim Farag, an education expert and a researcher noted the precious timing of Egypt’s brain trust collaboration with Japan, suggesting that major development projects ongoing such as the Suez Canal expansion and road networks will require the attention of the sharp minds Tokkastu produces. He noted that Egypt might benefit greatly from Japan’s policy of channelling technology into education, a strategy that has made Japan one of the highest literate nations in the world, where, despite non-compulsory high school education, enrollment stands at over ninety-six percent nationally.

Because of Tokkastu’s focus on critical thinking, innovation and analysis, Egyptian kids may well be getting the best all-round education for the future. This move represents another step in Egypt’s intentional and coordinated rejigging of its national education system.

According to the Japan International Cooperation Agency rep, Yoshifumi Omura, so far  Japan’s spending on Egypt has exceeded $8 billion.

By Caleb Ajinomoh

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