Eyecatch_Children's drawings from Sydbornholms Privatskole on the island of Bornholm, Denmark

Professor Toshiro Yokoi

Affiliation: Graduate School Faculty of Education ・Graduate School Graduate School of Education(School of Education Department of Education)

Area of Specialization: Educational Administration, Education System Theory

Keywords of research: public education system, security of educational opportunities, freedom of education, educational value

Alma mater: Shijonawate High School (Osaka Prefecture)

Final academic background: Graduate School of Letters, Ritsumeikan University

HP address: https://www.edu.hokudai.ac.jp/

*This article was originally published in the 4th issue of "Frontiers of Knowledge" and has been re-edited for the web. Updated March 1, 2023

What are you aiming for?

Educational administration and educational system theory, which I specialize in, is a field of study that explores the institutional conditions for guaranteeing the learning and development rights of children and young people. Education includes the practice of teaching and learning, which is at the core of education. However, for example, the educational content taught in schools is determined by the government in every country. There are about 800,000 elementary, junior high and high school teachers in Japan alone, and the number of teachers assigned to each school is determined by national standards.
In this way, school education is created as a system, so it is very important to design the system based on what kind of philosophy and policy. Schools may look like an established system, but in fact there are still many inadequacies, and there is a need to develop better education in response to the needs of the new era.

Specifically, how do you conduct your research?

Many developing countries still do not have sufficient compulsory education. The enrollment rate (percentage of children enrolled in school) of compulsory education in Japan is very high (99.99%), and almost no children are not enrolled in school. However, in fact, the truancy rate (percentage of students who are absent for 30 days or more a year) in junior high school is about 4%. There is no dropout in compulsory education, but in high school, depending on the situation, it may result in dropout. Such early dropouts are also seen in developed countries overseas, and dropouts at the high school age stage have become a particularly serious social problem.

A physical expression class at AFUK, a production school in Copenhagen. Production schools are not classroom lectures, but actually produce something and learn by doing activities.

However, the situation varies considerably from country to country. I have recently researched the Nordic countries of Denmark and Finland and found that these two countries have relatively low rates of dropouts at the compulsory stage. First of all, these countries have well-developed social security and employment systems, so it can be said that economic poverty is small and the resulting problems are few. In addition, even if a problem occurs, instead of leaving it to the school or the teacher, there is a system in which the social service administration intervenes quickly to improve the living environment of children.

Taking a lecture from researchers at Aarhus University in Denmark.

Especially noteworthy in the Danish and Finnish education systems is the flexible provision of places to accept students who cannot attend regular schools at the middle and high school levels. In the case of Japan, it is very difficult to return to the field of education once one leaves compulsory education or high school. In recent years, there has been a movement in Europe to enhance second-chance education. I have seen several second chance education venues in Denmark and Finland.
This research is conducted by a team, and the target countries are expanding from Europe and the United States to Asia. I have come to understand that there are various movements in other countries to review the state of public education systems. As a result of joint research, we have recently compiled two collections of papers (references).
Educational administration and educational system theory may seem like a rigid field of study just from their names, but their research activities are extremely active. If you don't actually visit educational sites, listen to the voices of children and teachers, and see things with your own eyes, you won't be able to conduct reliable research.

What do you want next?

What is interesting is that in Denmark there is a very strong awareness that education should be created and implemented by the citizens themselves. Many European countries have constitutions that provide for freedom of education. In the case of Denmark, this seems to be one of the factors that led to the creation of such a diverse group of schools. Japan has very strong control from the national government and there is not much diversity. Japan's simple education system has resulted in a high school enrollment rate, but the autonomy of local communities and schools is weak, and private schools are more of a quantitative complementary private school rather than an entity that implements education based on its own educational value. It is said.

A morning meeting at a Danish Friskolle (private school) that emphasizes the value of togetherness

In some countries, such as the United Kingdom and the United States, it is argued that educational disparities have widened as a result of promoting the marketization of education. It is an extremely difficult task to prevent the widening of educational disparities and foster an education that respects diverse values while recognizing the freedom of education. So far, I have explored educational systems that include children and young people in difficult situations, but in the future, I would like to consider how a system that can include a wider range of diverse values is possible.

Reference book

  1. Edited by Toshiro Yokoi, Jun Takizawa, and Tomoko Sato, Transformation of the Public Education System and Educational Administration: From Diversification and Marketization to Reconstruction of Educational Opportunity Security, Fukumura Publishing, 2021
  2. Edited by Toshiro Yokoi, International Comparison of Guaranteed Educational Opportunities: Early Leaving Prevention Policy and Second Chance Education, Keiso Shobo, 2022