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Uppsala University, which was founded in 1477, is the oldest and most prestigious university in northern Europe, having produced eight Nobel laureates. It is also the alma mater of Carl Linnaeus, who is known as the father of modern taxonomy. Uppsala City, in which the university is located, is the former capital of Sweden and has a population of about 180,000. With 45,000 students, it has the atmosphere of a typical university town. (Photo: Chairman Yohei Sasakawa)
The celebration at the university was attended by 50 people, including professors and students. Following Rector Hallberg, Chairman Sasakawa delivered a speech and pointed out that the SYLFF program has reached 68 universities in 44 countries, with more than 10,000 people receiving fellowships. He stated, “The SYLFF Fellows from Uppsala University, who are already blessed with leadership potential, are at the heart of this network. By bringing your knowledge and experience to bear on the common problems that confront us, I believe you will help to move the world in the right direction..” (Photo 3: Chairman Sasakawa handing out certificates)
Following his speech, Chairman Sasakawa handed out certificates to nine new SYLFF fellows. Ms. Marie and Ms. Magdalewa, who were among the new fellows, said, “We have been given a rare opportunity. We want to make use of it to study hard.” (Photo 4: Ms. Marie (right) and Ms. Magdalewa)
The SYLFF program began in 1987. Each university receives an endowment of US$1 million and invests it, with the proceeds being used to provide students with fellowships. Uppsala University received the 2nd SYLFF endowment in 1988. So far, 47 people have received fellowships at the university.
Ten Japanese Schools Join Friendship School Program [2008/06/09]
Higashidate Elementary School Principal Shishido (right) and AEFA Secretary-General Endo
With the support of the Nippon Foundation, the Japan-based Asian Education and Friendship Association (AEFA), builds schools for minority communities living in Asia's remote mountain regions. AEFA also encourages the newly constructed schools to sign friendship agreements with Japanese schools in order to foster international exchange. This fiscal year, 10 Japanese schools will join the sister school program. One of these was Higashidate Elementary School in Fukushima Prefecture. Higashidate will be the first school from Fukushima to participate. Masayoshi Endo, Secretary-General of AEFA, visited the school to sign the agreement, and introduced its new sister school--Natur Elementary School in Salavan Province, Laos--in a lecture to the students. (Photo: Higashidate Elementary School)
Higashidate Elementary School serves the town of Yamatsuri, located at the southern end of Fukushima Prefecture. The town has a population of about 6,548 and is famous for its progressive policies. Specifically, in recent years, it has resisted the national policy by refusing to merge with other municipalities, refusing to join the national resident registry network, and paying its town councilors a per diem. It has also built the Mottainai Library, which houses about 435,000 books donated by people all over Japan. Higashidate Elementary School was founded in 1873.(Photo: The activities of AEFA explained in the principal's office)
Regarding the new friendship agreement with Natur Elementary School, Higashidate Elementary School Principal Shishido stated, “There are many disadvantaged countries in Southeast Asia. I believe that learning about the actual situation in these countries will encourage our children to create new hopes and dreams for the future.” The school plans to send its students' essays and artwork to Natur Elementary School and to introduce an environmental study of the Kuji River, carried out by its fourth-graders. (Photo: Secretary-General Endo Speaking to the Children)
Natur Elementary School' s classes are currently conducted in a crude hut. By the end of the year, however, a new building consisting of three classrooms, a community space, a toilet, and a well will have been built through AEFA. In his lecture, Secretary-General Endo introduced Salavan Province in Laos and the children of Natur Elementary School, promising, “We will build a new school by Christmas and deliver your letters and pictures to the kids there.”(Photo: The current Natur Elementary School)
According to AEFA, 38 schools have been constructed to date, as part of a project that started in 2005. About 40 Japanese schools have signed friendship agreements. This year, AEFA plans to build 15 schools: 10 in Vietnam, 4 in Laos, and 1 in Thailand. In Japan, 10 new schools, including Higashidate Elementary School will become sister schools.
Bilingual School for Deaf Children Opens on Site of Closed School [2008/05/14]
Venue of the Mesei Gakuen opening ceremony
Meisei Gakuen in Tokyo is a new private bilingual school for deaf children that teaches sign language as a first language, and reading and writing as a second language. On April 9th, the school held its opening ceremony with some 250 people in attendance. The school was founded by the Bilingual Bicultural Education Center for Deaf Children (BBED), a nonprofit organization that uses donations from individuals and The Nippon Foundation to operate Tatsunoko Gakuen, a free school in Shinagawa Ward. Meisei Gakuen is the first school in Japan that teaches deaf children in sign language.
Meisei Gakuen has rented the former Yashiokita Elementary School building from Shinagawa Ward, renovating part of the facility. A total of 41 students (16 preschool, 25 elementary school), are enrolled.(Photo: Parents waving to children entering the venue)
At the opening ceremony, President Yonaiyama and Principal Saito discussed the importance of schools that teach in sign language. Said President Yonaiyama, “The hardships and efforts of our predecessors in deaf education have borne fruit, much to the delight of children. Today marks the start of a new kind of education.” Principal Saito explained the origins of the school name. “Meisei is expressed in sign language by showing the back of one hand and the palm of the other. The name ‘Meisei’ comes from the deaf concept of enlightenment after an age of darkness.”
In 1933, the Ministry of Education decided to focus on oral deaf education in teaching deaf children. Under this method, children with hearing disabilities simply imitate the shape of their teacher’s mouth. To enforce this way of learning, sign language was barred in many schools for deaf children. (Photo: Children presenting a short play)
Although oral deaf education is still used in many schools for the deaf, Tatsunoko Gakuen was established in 1999 by parents who wanted sign language education. Since the school was free, the BBED asked the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to approve the unique educational curriculum. Shinagawa Ward was thereafter designated a special education zone by the national government, and 45 million yen was raised to organize a private school--Meisei Gakuen.(Photo: Children picking up balloons following the ceremony)
Chinese Quiz bowl Winners Praise Japan [2008/05/07]
In front of the Red Gate of the University of Tokyo
Winners of a Chinese quiz tournament about Japan visited the country this past January, following which they conveyed their impressions to the Japan Science Society. The tournament is sponsored by the Japan Science Society with support from The Nippon Foundation as an extension of a project to distribute Japanese educational and research books to Chinese universities. The fourth tournament was held last September in Eastern China, Jilin and Heilongjiang Provinces, and the 22 students who won the contest or who served as emcees were invited to Japan. The students visited Tokyo, Okinawa, Kobe and Kyoto.(Photo: Students listening to Chairman Sasakawa)
The impressions of many students involved comparisons to China. Their general feeling was that the cities are clean, and the people polite. Lyu Xin of Changchun Teachers College said, “Japan is so clean it seems in danger of becoming transparent.” Song Ying, a staff member at Zhejiang Gongshang University, said, “Japan is indescribably clean, and the trains are quiet.” Sun Wen Bo of the Anhui China-Australia Technology and Vocational College, said, “I’m deeply impressed the cities are so clean, despite the absence of trash cans.” (Photo: In Kyoto, female students delight in wearing Japanese kimono)
During their visit to the Nippon Foundation, Chairman Yohei Sasakawa encouraged the students to learn more about Japan, rather than simply learning to like the country. Accordingly, Chu Yan An of Nanjing University wrote, “Through the exchange of views between young people, we were able to grasp the conditions in each area of the country, something that we couldn’t learn from textbooks.” (Photo: Two students enjoying themselves at a toy store)
Ms. Zhang Fengjie, the head of the group, praised the behavior of the students during their visit to Japan. “They demonstrated dignity, diligence, seriousness, honesty, and a practical turn of mind, cultivated under the influence and guidance of Japanese culture.”
Nippon Foundation Scholars Association members provide career counseling to Brazilian children [2008/04/02]
Latin American Students of Japanese descent, with Brazilian schoolchildren
The scenic Kiso River flows through the city of Minokamo in Gifu Prefecture, Japan. This valley is sometimes called the Japanese Rhine, due to the similarity of the landscape to its German counterpart. Some 10% of the city’s residents are non-Japanese, of which two-thirds are Brazilian, and have come here to work at Japanese factories. Many of their children attend the Sociedade Educacional Brazilian School. On February 21st, university students of Japanese descent from South and Central America, currently studying at universities across Japan under a Nippon Foundation scholarship program, visited the school to provide career counseling. (Photo: Brazilian School)
The six scholars from the Nippon Foundation Scholars Association were led by Akira Uchimura, a Chilean national who received his degree from the International Christian University Graduate School in Tokyo and now supports foreign students in Japan through the Association of Nikkei & Japanese Abroad. Students at the Sociedade Educacional Brazilian School range from preschool to high school, and 90 of them received lessons from the visiting scholars.(Photo: School Director Tanaka and Scholars)
In the morning class, the delegation offered career counseling, based on their own experiences and knowledge, to help children consider their futures. After their talks, the children posed one question after another. What made you decide to study medical science? Have you ever felt like giving up on academics? Do you ever feel like doing something else? In response, the university students encouraged the students to try to find out what kind of career would capture their imagination, to explore options, and to try to become the best in whatever they chose to do.(Photo: Children listening during class)
In the afternoon class, members gave junior high school students a detailed seminar on nutrition. Maky Fabiola Furuki Kishimoto, a student of medicine, also answered questions from the children on cancer.(Photo: Children giving a commemorative present to the university students)
In 2004, the Nippon Foundation, in cooperation with the Association of Nikkei & Japanese Abroad, established a Nippon Foundation-Nikkei Scholarship, called “Dreams to Reality” which awards scholarships to young people of Japanese descent from Latin America who wish to study in Japan. So far, it has awarded scholarships to 30 people. The delegation to Gifu was made up of students studying under this scholarship.
Award Ceremony Held for 300 Bangladeshi Scholars [2008/03/10]
Students at the awards ceremony
The Nippon Foundation provides scholarships to well-qualified students in Bangladesh, one of the poorest Asian nations. An award ceremony was recently held in the national capital, Dhaka, to recognize the 300 scholars selected for the 2007 school year. Launched in 1995, this project has now provided scholarships to a total of 2,750 students.
Held December 26, 2007, in a lecture hall at the Bangladesh National Museum, the award ceremony was attended by 300 students of the University of Dhaka and the University of Chittagong. Each recipient received 12,000 taka (approximately 20,000 yen), the annual tuition at national universities in Bangladesh. Undertaken in cooperation with the Bangladesh NGO, the Bangladesh Scholarship Council (BSC), this scholarship program received 5,000 applications this year. The 300 recipients were selected based on academic performance and economic need.（Photo:A student accepting her scholarship）
Attending the awards ceremony were the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, a professor from the University of Dhaka and the chief advisor to the BSC, representatives from the Embassy of Japan and members of the Nippon Foundation’s International Program Department. All offered their encouragement to the scholarship recipients. （Photo:The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court with scholars)
With its low annual national per capita income (USD 431 in 2005), Bangladesh faces numerous challenges in the area of education. According to UNESCO statistics, the literacy rate is 41.1%, and only 6% of the country has attended university.
In light of these circumstances, The Nippon Foundation began providing scholarships in 1995 to well-qualified students raised in economically disadvantaged homes, aiming to support national development through human resources development. The foundation plans to continue its support. Over the ten years since the program’s inception, reports indicate that former scholars are developing into a key part of the nation’s human resource foundation.
Anthology of Japanese Essays written by Chinese Students [2008/03/03]
Over a hundred of the participants
The 2007 winners have been announced for the foundation-sponsored Japanese-language essay contest for Chinese contestants, launched in 2005 to inspire contestants to express their opinions in a second language. Sixty of the best of these essays have been collected in Beyond National Boundaries, published by the Duan Press. Plans call for presenting copies to Chinese universities and other educational institutions for use as supplementary materials in Japanese-language study. At the December 15 award ceremony at Jinan University, President Takeju Ogata of The Nippon Foundation announced the foundation’s intentions to continue the contest.
The 2007 contest – the third to date – netted approximately 1,450 entries from students at 99 universities in 23 Chinese provinces, in addition to 21 entries in a new section for working people. Entries were judged by an eight-person panel. The top prize in the students’ section went to Chen Xinxin, a senior at Jinan University. In addition to the prize awarded, Ms. Chen will be offered a one-week trip to Japan. (Photo: Ms. Chen, the winner of the top prize)
The contest is one of many Japan-China exchange projects sponsored by the Center of Sino-Japanese Studies with support from the Japanese embassy to China. The Nippon Foundation has provided whole-hearted support for the program since the second contest. The award ceremony featured 14 entrants from across China who won second prize or better. The winners were presented with award certificates and prizes by Kiyomizu Seno, Consul General for Japan in Guangzhou, Vice-President Lu Daxiang of Jinan University, and Mr. Ogata.
Entitled, “Thinking About Japanese-Chinese Cooperation in Environmental Protection from the Issue of Pollution from Electronic Waste,” the essay by Ms. Chen awarded first prize argued for the need to build cooperative ties between Japan and China based on the theme of environmental protection, in light of the severe environmental damage caused by electronic waste imported into China. (Photo: A book collecting the prizewinning essays)
In his speech, Mr. Ogata said, “Disagreements between individuals or between countries are part of the normal course of events, and we can expect various issues to continue to emerge between Japan and China. Easing tensions is crucial to minimizing or resolving such problems. This is why the Nippon Foundation has established various channels for communication between the two nations.” (Photo: Mr. Ogata, the President of The Nippon Foundation)
Fact-finding mission on sign language interpretation visits US [2008/02/20]
A lecture at the U.S. National Technical Institute for the Deaf
Efforts are underway in Japan to train specialized sign-language interpreters, with the aim of opening the doors to advanced education for those with hearing disabilities. In December, the Postsecondary Education Programs Network of Japan (PEPNet-Japan) dispatched fact-finding mission to the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in the United States, the world leader in this field, to observe its sign-language interpreter training program firsthand.
When hearing-impaired persons wish to study specialized fields at universities or graduate schools, the fact that they cannot hear course lectures is a definite handicap. Even when universities allows sign-language interpreters or note-takers to attend class with the student, highly specialized course content can pose problems. This is a field in which Japan has made almost no advances.
U.S. law guarantees education for hearing-impaired students, through such means as sign language interpretation. Each university has counselors to work with students with disabilities, and specialized sign-language interpretation has come to be a recognized occupation. RIT, which provides training for sign-language interpreters, shares its campus with the National Technical Institute for the Deaf and has 1,000 hearing-impaired individuals in its student body.
The Japanese delegation consisted of 10 persons, including a number of university staff members that assist students with disabilities at places such as the Tsukuba University of Technology—a national university for people with hearing and visual impairments—as well as researchers and sign-language interpreters. On its one-week tour of the U.S., the group visited the National Technical Institute for the Deaf and other facilities. Lectures that they attended covered subjects such as the social structures needed to establish sign-language interpretation as a specialized occupation, and curricula for related vocational education. They also visited a private-sector firm headquartered in Rochester, New York that provides interpretation services throughout the U.S. （Photo : At a sign-language interpretation company）
Mayumi Shirasawa of the Research and Support Center on Higher Education for the Hearing and Visually Impaired at Tsukuba University of Technology, said, “Although in Japan sign-language interpreters have established a solid position in the community, I have become painfully aware that Japan is definitely behind the times in training sign-language interpreters who can handle advanced content. However, the introduction this tour provided to state-of-the-art efforts in the U.S. has given me hope that such efforts will be adopted in Japanese universities as well.”
The National Technical Institute for the Dear also runs the Postsecondary Education Network International (PEN-International), which is working to create environments around the world for hearing-impaired education. In addition to the Tsukuba University of Technology in Japan, participants include universities and organizations from China, Russia, the Philippines, Thailand, the Czech Republic, and South Korea. The Nippon Foundation was involved in the establishment of PEPNet-Japan and continues to provide support to PEN-International.
In addition to continuing its observation of activities in facilities that have taken the lead in this area, PEPNet-Japan, operated by the Tsukuba University of Technology, plans to invite specialists from the U.S. to Japan this year to take part in experimental interpretation activities at Japanese universities and other institutions. PEPNet is aiming to adopt the expertise in higher education for hearing-impaired students that have accumulated in the U.S. over 40 years, hoping to develop a firm base for such programs in Japan as well. （Photo :The Rochester Institute of Technology）
Escuela Agricola Panamericana Zamorano Interns Report on Experiences in Laos [2008/01/30]
Students studying in Laos
The Escuela Agrícola Panamericana Zamorano was established in 1941 in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, to nurture agricultural leaders from 18 Latin American nations. In keeping with its interest in aiding in the food security of the developing world, in 2002 The Nippon Foundation established a financial need-based scholarship program at the university, and following graduation, a number of these scholars go to Laos and Ethiopia as interns. In December, three interns who had been in Laos since March visited the Nippon Foundation on their way home, meeting with Chairman Yohei Sasakawa, reporting on the results of their research, and speaking about their future goals.
After graduating from the Escuela Agrícola Panamericana Zamorano, the three interns—Ivan Garcia (25) from Panama, Cindy Irusta (24) from Bolivia, and Carlos Lynch (23) from Ecuador—took part in a project to promote the use of cassava at an agricultural school in Luang Prabang, northern Laos. This project, run by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), focuses on use of the cassava plant in such diverse capacities as a livestock feed to replace corn, as a natural adhesive, and as the base component of biodegradable plastics. All three reported to Chairman Sasakawa that their internships had been a great experience.(Photo:Three students visit the Nippon Foundation)
During their time in Laos, the interns worked in the planting of cassava and making feed for pigs, as well as cooperating with four university students to teach students skills such as the use of personal computers. (Photo:Caring for cassava)
When they met with Sasakawa, the students also spoke of their hopes for the future. Ms. Irusta hopes to earn a doctoral degree and work in the fields of urban development and energy generation from recycled resources. Mr. Garcia said he would like to study livestock nutrition at Massey University in New Zealand, and then work in Panama in the future, while Mr. Lynch said he would like to “work for two years to see how the things I have learned can be used in the real world. Then I would like to study drought at an American university.” Chairman Sasakawa replied that he was glad to have had the opportunity to meet the interns, and expressed his hopes that they will learn more about Japan and keep the Nippon Foundation posted on their future activities.
Using art to improve academic ability [2008/01/28]
Children enjoy physical learning
As the debate over less stressful education continues, an experiment aimed at combining academic excellence with children’s individual talents has attracted the attention of educators. This program uses artistic activities such as dance, music, drawing and manual arts to help students understand primary subjects like arithmetic, science, and language. On November 13, as part of an experiment, social studies and science classes at Tokyo’s Yanagawa Elementary School incorporated elements of dance, music, and drama. The courses were organized by the nonprofit organization Artwork Japan (chair: Kyoko Ono), which, with support from the Nippon Foundation, brought an instructor from Canada to conduct the experiment,
The instructor was Canadian actress Coreen Lanky. In addition to performing on the stage and television, Ms. Lanky also teaches at schools through the Learning Through The Arts (LTTA) program. The LTTA program uses artistic activities to improve students’ understanding of primary subjects, with the goal of ensuring that no child is left behind. Begun in 1994, this program has been adopted at more than 350 Canadian schools, from kindergarten through high school. It has been reported that the program has improved literacy rates and test scores, as well as reducing juvenile delinquency. (Photo: Ms. Lanky)
The day’s courses included a third-grade social studies class that focused on occupations, and a fifth-grade science class, in which students pretended to be weather forecasters. Both classes made use of drama and dance. Activities in other classes included using sponges to learn about symmetry and similar shapes, a math class that used clay to understand three-dimensional forms, and a visit to the local community during social studies class, followed by musical expressions of the students’ impressions.
Although Japan is experimenting with a wide range of hands-on learning methods, cases in which specialized artists visit schools to assist in understanding primary subjects are rare. “I was surprised how easy it was to understand difficult subjects as we learned by moving around, because it felt like I was playing,” commented one of the students, who added, “I even enjoyed math, which is hard for me; I usually don’t like it.” Ms. Lanky said, “Children all around the world like to move around and express themselves.” (Photo: Students learn about occupations through role-play.)