“I want to make a place where people who are different, who are mavericks, can come together to cause a chemical reaction and create new things.”
This is the wish expressed by Ryuichi Nomura, former director of NHK. After leaving NHK, he decided to set up a new type of school. He is looking to cultivate students who can “make a way where there are none,” and who can “recognize the value of being different.”
■Students’ potential and growth seen during Summer School
In 2015, Mr. Nomura started the project for establishing “ISSJ”, an international school in Japan specializing in science. His aim is to “produce innovators who will solve global issues and create a new world with science and technology.”
In preparation for opening the school in 2020, he is hosting a Summer School training camp every year. Junior high and high school students from Japan and overseas come together to learn about Japanese culture and the latest technology. The instructors are entrepreneurs and scientists pursuing cutting-edge study of nuclear engineering, artificial intelligence, space science, and other fields.
At the end of the summer camp, students give presentations. With the knowledge they learned, they think of and propose solutions for social issues. Is there another way to treat genetic disorders? Can we invent a new energy source so we can continue economic growth without worsening global warming? The children’s thoughtful examinations and progressive ideas are remarkable, and the way they actively ask and answer questions demonstrates their growth.
■Equality of possibility and a diverse place of learning
The ISSJ aspires to “provide equality of possibility to as many talented individuals” and offers scholarships to economically disadvantaged children within and without Japan.
In late January, Mr. Nomura visited a public school on the outskirts of Manila, Philippines. Listening to local school officials and children in poverty-stricken areas, he explores ways of supporting education.
Struggling with revenue shortfall and population growth, the Philippines ranks 139th out of 159 countries in its ratio of educational expenditure to GDP. Local teachers are in desperate search for overseas educational institutions that will work together and provide scholarships for hard-working and talented children.
Last year, 15-year-old Richel visited Japan with the ISSJ’s support. For various reasons, he lives with foster parents away from his real family. His room is dim and has no desk, and he sits on his bed to study. A bookshelf made of a Coca-Cola cardboard box is lined with English textbooks in the Japanese Kumon-style. The books are worn from reading and filled with notes. He is only 15, but has already mastered high school arithmetic.
“My dream is to go to Japan and experience science. I want to interact and study with friends from various cultures. I want to be a scientist and teach many things to children. I believe education has the power to change people.”
■Hosting another Summer School, and raising 1.25 million yen for 5 scholarships
This year, Summer School will be held from July 30th to August 9th, spanning 11 days. The theme this year is: “Where did we come from? What are we? And where are we going?” The program will explore history, trace our ancestor’s footsteps, understand our present, and create the future from it.
The School invites 30 students from Japan and overseas, and intends to add to the scholarships provided by funds raised by the ISSJ. The total cost per person including accommodation, food, and transportation is 250,000 yen. With 1.25 million yen, 5 economically disadvantaged children will have the opportunity to expand their horizons and develop their talents.
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