Tuesday, February 03, 2004

SA officials visit Japan

Officials from Saudi Arabia have visited certain organizations in Japan which help produce Japanese textbooks:

A delegation of officials from the Saudi Ministry of Education on a fact-finding tour of Japan to see how it handles education has now left Tokyo for Nagoya to assess curriculum development at the Department of Technology Education, Aichi University. Their tour is sponsored by the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

The delegation comprised of Dr. Abdulillah Abdullah Al-Mosharraf, director general for curriculum development at the ministry, and four supervisors, Shakir Nasir Al-Shareef, Mohammed Abdullah Al-Zoghaibi, Abdullah Mohammed Al-Otaibi, and Abdulrahman Hamad Al-Huzaimy.

In Tokyo, the team visited various organizations involved in designing and producing textbooks, including the Elementary and Secondary Education Bureau at the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT).

In Japan, school textbooks, even though produced by private publishing houses, have to reflect government guidelines and have government approval before they can be used by students.

Dr. Al-Mosharraf told Arab News, “For a traditionally closed society, I am impressed and grateful to the Japanese Ministry of Education for their openness and willingness to share information with us. We will take what we have learned here and adapt it for possible use in Saudi Arabia.”

The Saudi delegation also paid a visit to Tokyo Shoeski, the largest textbook publisher in Japan. Shoeski Director Ueno Kenjiro told Arab News that the company had a mission “to bring up persons of talent who bear the future of Japan by publishing better textbooks in great volume. The reform of the education system is proceeding, educational media is becoming more diverse, and the concept of education is expanding. We have a responsibility to our youth, to keep up with the demands of our time and beyond.”

During the visit, Dr. Musharraf invited Shoeski to look at the possibility of developing textbooks for Saudi Arabia. Currently, only textbook publishers from GCC countries have applied to provide the Saudi market, he explained.

Perhaps this could lead to reforms in the Saudi Arabia educational system?


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