Impressed with Japan’s ability to quickly rebuild after World War II, some educators in Iraq are looking to instill similar values in their own youth.
As Iraq remains mired in fighting with extremist groups, government funds for essential services such as education are strained to the breaking point. In this grim situation, the new Japanese-style school in Baghdad is hopefully seen as a breath of fresh air.
It was the idea of an Iraqi expert in Japanese political history who followed the country’s rise from a devastated scorched land to economic powerhouse in only a few decades and hopes his country can follow the same path when the fighting finally stops.
At an opening ceremony held by the Japanese embassy on 26 December, the founding professor said: “By inheriting the spirit of harmony of Japanese society, I want to bring up the next generation to embrace the importance of teamwork.”
The school will closely follow both the extra-curricular activities found in Japanese schools such as having the students do all of the cleaning themselves and a general emphasis on the importance of discipline in life. The Japanese language will also be among the lessons offered.
One of the 230 children enrolled told media: “I like that it’s possible to a lot of different things like Japanese.” This boy and nine other representative students treated guests to a song in Japanese that they had only recently picked up.
While it’s a touching idea and we can only hope this school helps to raise a generation of kind and hardworking people who will raise Iraq to greatness, there are challenges that will need to be overcome — after all, for better or worse, the current education system in Japan isn’t the same as it was during the aftermath of World War II.
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