Navigating Japan’s educational system as a student or parent can be exceptionally tricky for those with international backgrounds. Students have to decide whether to enroll in an international school or join the country’s sometimes confusing and unique public education system.
Both avenues have their own set of pros and cons, but what many schools lack is a real set of personal guidance or mentorship program. What’s needed is a social and educational support system for those wanting to get the most out of their time at school in order to achieve their educational ambitions.
Tutoring with understanding
Which is where Kokusaba steps in: founded by university students Isha Bahar and Minoru Anderson, Kokusaba is “an internationally-minded tutoring service made by students, for students,” Isha explains. “We provide one-on-one tutoring with university-level tutors who have been through what their students are going through now.”
“Our role” explains Minoru “is to match international students in Tokyo with the perfect tutor who can assist them on a level more similar to a supportive mentor than just an instructor.” Since launching, the pair have created a vastly international network of skilled tutors who guide and mentor ambitious students. We chatted with the inspiring founders about why they started the company, how their personal experiences came into play, and how Japan’s educational system could improve to benefit its students.
Can you please tell us a little about your backgrounds?
I: I was born and raised in Japan. I went to a local school until grade five then I transferred to an international school. My dad was transferred to Singapore, so I went to Singapore for five years to finish my high school education. I really missed Japan during that time, so when it was time I decided to come back, which is also why I chose Waseda.
Because I went to an Australian international high school, I graduated in January 2016 and had a lot of free time until the Japan university year started, so I decided to work part-time in a tuition school. I fell in love with the place—I liked the approach of a flexible at-home atmosphere at the school.
It also made me realize that tutoring went beyond just teaching academics. I knew personally how hard the transition between international and Japanese schools could be, so I wanted to create something like that for international students in Japan.
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