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Education Open Talks | Rural Education in East Asia from the Perspectives of Small Rural Schools Published:2021-11-09 15:14:36  Views:10

Education Open Talks are dialogue series initiated by the UNESCO International Research and Training Centre for Rural Education (“UNESCO INRULED”), inviting experts worldwide to discuss educational issues. In response to the “Futures of Education” global initiative, UNESCO INRULED launched the dialogue series of “Future of Education and Education for Rural Revitalization”, aiming at stimulating discussions on the effective measures and mechanisms of rural education for future development. This webinar is the first event of the dialogue series.

The formation of small schools in rural areas is the corollary of urbanisation and population migration and a common phenomenon in most impoverished regions. However, many questions still remain unanswered: What kind of policies and institutional environment are in favor of the development of small schools? What are the roles of local, municipal and provincial governments in the management of small rural schools? Do ICT facilities have potential for small schools?

Although East Asian countries have achieved considerable achievements in the popularisation of high-quality education durting the past decade, social issues such as immigration, low birth rates, and efficiency-driven education policies still are posing huge challenges to rural education in East Asia. In addition, the COVID-19 has brought more difficulties and uncertainties for East Asian countries to build a resilient, inclusive and quality rural education system.

Given this context, UNESCO INRULED and Tohoku University jointly organised this webinar on the afternoon of October 30 2021, discussing the policies and practical cases of rural small schools in China, South Korea and Japan, and sharing the experience of rural education development. Participants of this webinar were: Mr. Robert Parua, Education Programme Specialist of UNESCO Beijing office, Professor Tomohiro Yakuwa, Dean of the Graduate School of Education, Tohoku University, Japan, Professor Zeng Xiaodong, Executive Director of the UNESCO INRULED, Dr. Zhao Tongtong, Postdoctoral Fellow of the UNESCO INRULED, Professor Joon Yul Choi, the School of Education, Gongju University, Korea, Professor Yasuyuki Tamai, Hokkaido University of Education, Research Institute for Remote and Small School Education (HUE RISE), and Professor Philip Roberts, Rural Education and Community Research Group of the University of Canberra. The seminar was hosted by Dr. Jing Liu from the Graduate School of Education, Tohoku University, Japan.

The webinar began with opening addresses from Professor Tomohiro Yakuwa and Mr. Robert Parua, both of whom mentioned the significance of the rural population migration and the improvement of quality of rural education. Mr. Robert Parua pointed out that the core of the 2030 Agenda is “Leaving No One Behind”, calling on attentions to the needs of the rural population in the 2030 Agenda of Sustainable Development. He proposed that rural education seminars could explore deeper into the opportunities, equity, and inclusion issues in the rural context.

Following that, guest speakers from China, South Korea and Japan shared the policies and practices of rural small schools in their country. Professor Zeng, the representative from China, illustrated the background of China’s rural development and rural education in this context. Afterwards, Dr. Zhao shared a case study on teachers’ personal experiences, reflecting the tension and challenges between teaching goals and rural development limitations. Professor Choi, the representative from South Korea, shared South Korea’s rural education policy framework and the partnership between Korean public schools and the private sectors. Japanese representative, Professor Tamai, introduced the implementation and policies for solving the problems of small rural schools in Japan at the school level.

After presentations from the three countries, participants were then engaged in a heated discussion. Professor Philip Roberts pointed out that all speakers mentioned population decline, population aging, economic recession and other issues, which are closely related to school education. In the meanwhile, the quality of school education is largely related to faculty resources and the teacher-student relationship. In this webinar, participants discussed the sociality of teacher-student relationship, teacher autonomy, government incentives and other aspects of the situation in Japan, South Korea and China, and shared their national experiences through case studies.

Mr Robert Pura revisited the vision of “Leaving No One Behind”in the 2030 Agenda. He believes that the needs of rural and urban disadvantaged populations must be fully included in the Agenda. In response to the theme of this seminar, he made several suggestions: (1) The bottom-up policy-making. When designing new education policies, the government needs to unite all stakeholders to engage in discussions fully; (2) The establishment of public-private partnership. The private sectors should participate in the reforms to improve the quality of rural schools; (3) The adoption of data-driven approaches. The statistics and data collected from rural schools and teachers, which is of assistance in the discussions with policymakers, will contribute to rural education. Finally, Mr Robert Pura mentioned that UNESCO would launch the Futures of Education Report on November 10, 2021. More key issues and discoveries about rural education will be revealed in this global report. 

Education Open Talks | Future of Education and Education for Rural Revitalisation

is an ongoing dialogue series

The second event: Gender Equality Education In Rural Areas

will be available in late November

Stay tuned



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