Famous for its highly structured educational system, Japan's public schools are plagued with increasing problems. Over 300,000 students per year are dropping out, bullying is on the rise, and morals are declining. The business community and the press recognize this downward spiral, and businesses are seeking solutions. Japanese corporations no longer want "factory workers." They want graduates who are individuals-with ingenuity, creativity, and independent thinking.
This past spring, four Japanese businessmen visited Home School Legal Defense Association to discuss launching a high school tutoring program. They wanted to know all about the U.S. home school movement. Unlike many other countries, the business community is driving Japan's home school movement, and the Japanese press is enthralled with the concept. After a meeting with HSLDA Director of International Relations Christopher J. Klicka, the businessmen decided to expand their tutoring program to include grades K-8, to start a national home school association, and to work towards legalizing home schooling in Japan.
Shortly after this meeting, Tokyo's two largest broadcasting companies-Tokyo Broadcasting Service (TBS) and Japan Broadcasting Service (NHK TV)-flew halfway around the world to interview several home educating families as well as HSLDA about home schooling and the effectiveness of grassroots lobbying. Subsequently, two one-hour specials on home schooling aired in Japan.
In August, Atmark Corporation invited Chris Klicka to speak at Japan's first national home school conference and help launch the national Home School Support Association of Japan (HOSA). In Japan, the press' fascination with home schooling provided many opportunities for interviews, as well as a large press conference with all the major networks and newspapers in attendance.
In addition to the favorable press coverage, HOSA also received accolades from Japan's business and academic communities. Klicka met with a high-level official in the Ministry of Education who, upon understanding the home school concept, highly endorsed the idea. Because Japan's compulsory attendance law is at the federal level, the Ministry of Education's decisions and opinions are very important to local school authorities.
CHEA of Japan
President: Hiro Inaba
HOSA of Japan
Contact: Jun Adachi
Highlights of the trip included the opportunity to facilitate networking with other home schoolers. HSLDA encouraged HOSA to network with the new Church and Home Educators Association (CHEA) of Japan. While in Tokyo, Klicka spoke to over 120 American military home schoolers at the Yokata airforce base and arranged introductions to the Japanese home schoolers.
A challenge whenever home schooling begins in another country is lack of curriculum. HSLDA was able to connect HOSA with Steve Oyama, a Japanese-American businessman, and his American wife, Kathy, who is fluent in Japanese. Home schoolers and HSLDA members, the Oyamas are now helping HOSA develop Japanese curricula.
Germany establishes legal defense organization
On the way to Japan, Christopher Klicka and his wife Tracy arranged an extended layover in Frankfurt, so that they could offer support and encouragement to German home schoolers who are establishing their own national legal defense association: Schulunterricht zu Hause (School Instruction at Home).
Now German home schoolers can pool their resources to finance legal defense for families as well as ongoing negotiations with German authorities to change the laws and make home schooling legal.
Schulunterricht zu Hause of Germany