1 Definition of NGO

The term NGO, which stands for nongovernmental organization, was first coined by the United Nations (UN). Although only UN member states make decisions in the UN, the term NGO was created to allow private bodies to consult and cooperate with the UN and give civil society a voice in the UN decision-making process. In addition to working in the field of international cooperation, NGOs listed by the UN include civil society groups that are active in various areas, such as welfare, human rights, environment, and gender equality, as well as business syndicates, religious organizations, and federations of professional associations, plus a wide range of private bodies.

Another concept similar to an NGO is the non-profit organization (NPO). While NGO is a term that highlights the nongovernmental and civil aspects of a political entity, the term NPO stresses the nonprofit orientation and cooperative aspects of an economic entity. In terms of this chapter, there is no significant difference between them, and NGOs can also be NPOs.

In this chapter, NGOs are defined as “spontaneous citizen organizations,” and NGOs that are active in the field of international cooperation are included in the analysis for the purpose of the chapter. Spontaneous citizen organizations are not external bodies created by the government but nonprofit organizations that citizens have established and run proactively. Therefore, a term popular in the USA, the private voluntary organization (PVO), is more appropriate than NGO to accurately represent spontaneous citizen organizations. The term PVO includes the word “voluntary.” Although it is widely believed in Japan that voluntary work means unpaid service, voluntary also encompasses the concepts of public interest, spontaneity, and innovation. Innovation refers not only to facilitating changes to make society and people’s lives better but also to bringing about a reform of the attitudes and values of those who take part in NGO activities (members, staff, directors, and volunteers) themselves, thus contributing to the renewal of their own organizations.

There are two main reasons why NGOs have recently attracted attention beyond the field of international cooperation. One reason is the movement to downsize the government on the basis of neoliberalism. The concept that the government (country) should be able to take responsibility for providing citizens with cradle-to-grave services has fallen apart, and the Japanese government remains heavily in debt. In this context, NGOs have been utilized as service providers that can perform public services more efficiently and more effectively. There are two comparative advantages of NGOs: they can implement programs that contribute directly to residents at the grassroots level, and they can adopt innovative approaches and methods in their programs. For these reasons, NGOs have been expected to play roles in implementing educational cooperation programs.

The other reason that NGOs have attracted attention lies in the concept of good governance. As clarified by economics, both governments and markets fail. In order to create a democratic and free society that guarantees human rights, the country (government) and market (enterprises) as well as civil society are required to have a good balance and coexist in tension. In this context, the term civil society organization (CSO) is often used. NGOs speak for those who are in difficult situations, including children who cannot go to school and illiterate adults. They also monitor the behavior of enterprises and the roles of government and then provide suggestions. Thus, NGOs play the role of “change agent.” In educational cooperation, NGOs have been recognized as playing roles in the improvement of laws, policies, measures, and budgets.

As seen above, NGOs have two roles: firstly, implementing innovative and effective programs as service providers, and, secondly, improving policies and monitoring government practices as change agents. This chapter analyzes the history of international cooperation in education by Japanese NGOs from these two aspects. First, the profiles of Japanese NGOs and educational cooperation are presented, followed by a review of the historical features at the times that NGOs for education were established. The characteristics of shifts in educational cooperation by NGOs are then examined, based on the case studies of nine organizations. NGOs that are active in the field of education are referred to as NGOs for education in this chapter. It should be noted that most NGOs are also active in other sectors, such as health, emergency aid, and community development.

2 Overview of Educational Cooperation by Japanese NGOs

2.1 Profile of Japanese NGOs

The Japan NGO Center for International Cooperation (JANIC), a network organization for Japanese NGOs, suggests that there are approximately 500 Japanese NGOs active in areas related to international cooperation (JANIC, 2011). Regarding the fiscal scale of NGOs, according to the findings of a survey of 312 organizations conducted in Japanese fiscal year (FY) 2015, their total revenue was 42.8 billion yen. The average revenue (revenue per organization) was 137.29 million yen, of which 17% of the organizations had 100 million yen or more and 62% of them had less than 30 million yen (JANIC, 2016). Since there is great variance in NGO budgets and the distribution is skewed to the left, the median value, 19.56 million yen, best represents the fiscal scale of NGOs. As the total revenue of the 153 organizations in the survey of FY1990, which contains the oldest available data, was 12.48 billion yen, it has increased 3.5-fold in the 25 years from 1990 to 2015.

Although Japanese NGOs have continued developing and growing, they are still significantly smaller than NGOs in the USA and Europe. For instance, the revenue of a single organization called Save the Children USA is 676.34 million dollars (FY2013, about 66.1 billion yen), and that of Oxfam Great Britain is 486 million pounds (FY2016, about 60.3 billion yen), which far exceeds the 42.8 billion yen total revenue of the 312 Japanese organizations. Moreover, the revenue per organization of Japanese NGOs has increased only 1.7-fold in 25 years, from 80 million yen in 1990 to 137.29 million yen in 2015. Japanese NGOs also have a low rate of equity capital in their finances and a high dependency rate on government funds. While the rate of government grants in the amount of aid disbursed by NGOs in countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and/or the Development Assistance Committee (OECD/DAC) is 3% on average, that of Japanese NGOs is 21% (Miyake, 2016).

Moreover, in terms of providing employment opportunities for those who aspire to a career in the field of international cooperation, NGOs have changed. According to a survey conducted in 1994, there were 823 full-time employees out of the 186 NGOs surveyed, of which 580 worked in Japan and 243 worked overseas (NGO Activity Promotion Center, 1994). By 2016, the number of full-time employees in the 218 surveyed organizations had increased to 1,520, of whom 1,036, or 68%, worked in Japan and 484, or 32%, worked overseas. This means that the number of full-time employees of NGOs has increased 1.8-fold in 12 years. Considering that the number of permanent employees of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in 2017 is 1,882, it is safe to say that NGOs do provide career opportunities in the field of international cooperation.Footnote 1

2.2 Educational Cooperation by Japanese NGOs

The organizations that are active in education are the largest and account for 70% of the approximately 500 Japanese NGOs (JANIC, 2011), meaning that approximately 350 organizations are considered to engage in educational cooperation programs. The next largest fields after education are health, population, and water supply (55%), followed by emergency aid (45%), community development (44%), and environment (40%).Footnote 2

With regard to the rate of subsectors of educational cooperation, findings from a 2017 survey show the contributions of NGOs to achieving the educational goal (SDG4) of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Of the 58 programs by 10 member organizations of the Japan NGO Network for Education (JNNE), primary and secondary education accounts for 78% of the educational cooperation programs by NGOs, early childhood education for 24%, and literacy education for 19% (Fig. 12.1). Most programs target more than one subsector, and 55 programs, or 95% of the 58 programs, target the field of basic education. On the other hand, there are few programs targeting higher education (JNNE, 2017). Consequently, the features of educational cooperation programs by NGOs are (1) the focus on basic education and (2) the emphasis on nonformal education as well as formal education.

Fig. 12.1
figure 1

Contribution of NGO’s education cooperation programs to each SDG4 target. (Source: JNNE (2017))

Comparing the amount of aid for basic education provided by NGOs with that disbursed through Official Development Assistance (ODA) channels, the available data shows that Japanese NGOs provide as much aid for basic education as Japan’s bilateral ODA. For example, the total amount of educational cooperation programs estimated from the results of the survey of 308 organizations in 2015 was 6.7 billion yen.Footnote 3 Since 95% of educational programs are in the field of basic education, as mentioned above, the total amount of aid for the field by NGOs is estimated at roughly 6.4 billion yen.Footnote 4 The amount of aid for basic education of Japan’s bilateral ODA in 2015 was 49.23 million US dollars (about 5.9 billion yen at the average exchange rate in 2015).Footnote 5 Therefore, it is clear that Japanese NGOs provide as much aid for basic education as Japan’s bilateral ODA.

2.3 Generations of Japanese NGOs for Education According to Inception Period

In this section, the history of NGOs for education is reviewed. While the fields of activities and forms of programs undertaken by Japanese NGOs span a wide range, NGOs that are typical of each era have been established in accordance with the international situations and domestic trends in Japan. Generations of Japanese NGOs for education will be indicated by reference to the discussion of the history of Japanese NGOs by JANIC (2016) and Ohashi (2011). It should be noted that these generations depend mainly on the inception periods of the organizations and do not necessarily indicate the dynamics or provide a complete picture of the shift and evolution of NGOs for education.

The NGOs established after the Second World War up until the early 1970s that were involved in education were characterized by the support they provided for postwar reconstruction and their participation in the international community. In this first generation, there were only a few NGOs for education that were established by the early 1970s. This is because Japan had lost the war and was considered a low-income country. At the time, even the term NGO was unrecognized, and such organizations were generally referred to as private bodies or private organizations. It was only after Japan entered into its high economic growth period and came to be considered a developed country that Japanese citizens took a growing interest in international cooperation. The NGOs for education established in this era include the National Federation of UNESCO Associations in Japan (founded in 1948), the Asia-Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (founded in 1971), and ChildFund Japan (founded in 1975), which is supported by Christian churches.

One major characteristic of the second generation, the NGOs for education established in the 1980s, was the support provided to Indo-Chinese refugees. The goal of providing support to this community was triggered around 1980 in response to the humanitarian situation in Indochina. Consequently, the Association for Aid and Relief, Japan, and the Nippon International Cooperation for Community Development were established in 1979, followed by the creation of the Japan International Volunteer Center and Caring for Young Refugees in 1980 and the Shanti Volunteer Association (SVA) in 1981. These organizations undertook and carried out emergency aid and provision of supplies on-site. Subsequently, in response to changes in mid-and-long-term local needs, the focus of their activities shifted to development cooperation aimed at assisting local communities and supporting nonformal education such as vocational training, literacy education, and library programs. The foundation of these NGOs, which were different from conventional private organizations and public interest corporations, made 1980 the so-called first year of NGO activities in Japan. It can be said that the NGOs established to provide support for Indo-Chinese refugees contributed to the increasing interest of Japanese citizens in international cooperation and NGOs.

The third generation, which refers to NGOs for education established in the 1980s, was characterized by an increase in the number of organizations and the expansion of target countries. Some new Japanese independent NGOs for education were founded at this time, including Action with Lao Children (in 1982), the Campaign for the Children of Palestine (in 1986), and the Education for Development Foundation Japan (in 1987). However, also during this period, the Japan offices of international NGOs were established. Plan International Japan was founded in 1983, Adventist Development and Relief Agency Japan in 1985, Save the Children Japan in 1986, and World Vision Japan in 1987. Despite these NGOs being Japanese member organizations of NGOs that have their headquarters in the USA and Europe, they maintain Japan-specific decision-making mechanisms and engage in educational cooperation programs.

In the 1980s, some Japanese NGOs began providing support to people affected by the drought in Africa, and Japanese NGOs expanded the range of their activities from Asia to Africa. The number of Japanese NGOs, which had been approximately 50 in 1980, increased to more than 200 in the brief period of 10 years. As a result of this increase, network organizations for NGOs and organizations with intermediate support functions were also established in the late 1980s. Measures for collaboration between ODA and NGOs began, and the NGO grant program was also started by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in 1989.

For the fourth generation, NGOs established in the 1990s, a major characteristic was their focus on the enhancing expertise. In the 1990s, social interest in NGOs increased in the wake of a series of international conferences, including the Earth Summit. Many NGOs performed rescue operations, leveraging the experience from their overseas activities, especially after the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995, in Japan. In the wake of the earthquake, a large number of volunteers rushed to the affected area, leading to an increasing recognition of the significant roles that volunteer organizations can play. Until this time, it was difficult for civil and volunteer groups to obtain corporate status. However, public awareness grew on the need to give corporate status (by which legal status is secured and social trust is gained) to these groups, leading to the passing and enforcement of the NPO Act in 1998.

As the significance of NGOs was acknowledged by society, the quality and accountability of NGO projects was also called into question, which required them to enhance their expertise. NGOs for education established in this period include the Community Action Development Organization (1998). In the 1990s, driven by the Gulf War, the Yugoslav Wars, and the Rwandan Genocide, NGOs including JEN (1994) and Peace Winds Japan (1996) were established with the aim of providing emergency humanitarian relief. These NGOs highlighted the importance of professionalism in emergency humanitarian relief.

The characteristics of the NGOs for education established between the 2000s and the present day, the fifth generation, are collaboration with various stakeholders, implementation of partnership programs, and the strengthening of advocacy. The Japan Platform (JPF) was established in 2000 as an emergency humanitarian response organization in collaboration with NGOs, the government, and the business community. JPF also supported educational projects during emergencies and provided support for 192 educational programs with 9.264 billion yen (48.25 million yen per program) between FY2001 and FY2016.Footnote 6 Among the 192 educational programs provided during emergencies, there were 113 cases where support was delivered in response to man-made disasters (conflicts) and 79 cases in response to natural disasters. The share of educational projects among the overseas projects of JPF between FY2012 and FY2016 was 18.1% of the total expenditure. Thus, the share of educational projects in emergency humanitarian responses by Japanese NGOs is considered to be high. In response to the increasing need for emergency humanitarian and reconstruction assistance in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks in the USA in 2001, six Japanese NGOs reassigned a total of 11 employees to work with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to support the implementation of the back-to-school campaign as emergency educational support.

As a feature of the approaches of educational cooperation programs by NGOs established during and after the 2000s, more NGOs have adopted partnership programs implemented through local NGOs, instead of conventional programs with direct implementation. NGOs for education have also focused on advocacy for Education for All (EFA) and Sustainable Development Goal No. 4 (SDG4) and its targets. JNNE was established as a coalition of Japanese NGOs for education in 2002 after the World Education Forum (Dakar Forum) in order to advocate for the improvement of educational cooperation policies of the Japanese government. The Japan offices of international NGOs have also promoted advocacy to the Japanese government, in collaboration with their member organizations of different countries, through the G8/G7 summits, the G20 summits, and international conferences on the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and EFA/SDG4.

2.4 Case Studies on the History of Educational Cooperation by Japanese NGOs

In this section, the characteristics of the history of educational cooperation by Japanese NGOs are examined in more detail through case studies. A total of nine organizations out of the 21 members of JNNE (as of May 2017) were surveyed. Seven of the organizations are members of the JNNE steering committee, one has extensive experience in educational cooperation, and the last one is JNNE itself (Table 12.1). Case studies are based on a literature review and interviews with employees of the surveyed organizations. The surveyed organizations are classified into the following four categories to be analyzed in this section: (1) NGOs established based on values of UNESCO, (2) NGOs originally established in Japan, (3) NGOs established as offices of international NGOs in Japan, and (4) network organizations comprised of NGOs working in the field of international educational cooperation.

Table 12.1 Surveyed organizations for case studies and the characteristics of shifts in approaches to educational cooperation

2.4.1 NGOs Established Based on Values of UNESCO

The National Federation of UNESCO Co-operative Associations, the predecessor of the National Federation of UNESCO Associations in Japan (NFUAJ), was established mainly by academic intellectuals in 1948 as a nationwide organization for non-governmental UNESCO activities. It took as its purpose the goal of disseminating to Japanese citizens the values of peace and international understanding as represented by the Preamble to the Constitution of UNESCO, which declared that, “since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.” What made NFUAJ engage in educational cooperation in earnest was support for the flood of Cambodian refugees who flew out to Thailand in 1979. In 1989, the year before International Literacy Year, NFUAJ started the World Terakoya Movement, in which they provided support for literacy programs for adults and undertook a campaign to raise awareness about literacy issues in Japan and overseas. They undertook this in partnership with one of the major newspaper companies in Japan, the Yomiuri Shimbun. Although the World Terakoya Movement mainly supported the construction of Community Learning Centre (CLC) facilities, the movement also emphasized experience-sharing and capacity building of planners and facilitators of literacy programs beginning in 1993. Since 2000, the number of partners supported by their CLC programs has decreased to 10 in Asia, in order to provide longer-term support.

NFUAJ has also promoted CLCs in collaboration with JICA since 2000. With the financial support of JICA, NFUAJ conducted literacy programs through 43 CLCs in ethnic minority neighborhoods in the mountainous areas of Vietnam from 2000 through 2003. In Afghanistan, they played the role of an equal partner with JICA from the planning phase of a technical cooperation project of JICA and supported the construction of three model CLCs in Kabul from 2004 through 2007. Model CLCs were operated by the Deputy Ministry of Education for Literacy (DMoEL) of the Ministry of Education in partnership with local residents, promoting the formation of local communities and mutual understanding of different ethnic groups by providing literacy, life skills, technical training, and women-only indoor athletic facilities operated by women’s groups (JICA, 2010). These activities have also influenced government policies. In Vietnam, the National Action Plan for EFA by the Ministry of Education and Training included the establishment of CLCs in all of Vietnam’s 10,450 communes by 2015. Afghanistan’s National Education Strategic Plan positioned CLCs as one of the strategies for improving the literacy rate and set out a plan for promoting literacy education in each district.

The following characteristics are drawn from this case study with regard to shifts in approaches to educational cooperation by NFUAJ: (1) they have specialized in literacy education since International Literacy Year in 1990, (2) they have engaged in human resource development and experience-sharing for literacy experts (software support) in addition to the construction of CLC facilities (hardware support), and (3) they have enhanced their expertise in the field of literacy and nonformal education, and the direct implementation of literacy projects, as well as providing support through partner bodies.

The Asia-Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU) was originally established as an incorporated foundation in 1971 on the initiative of the Japanese National Commission for UNESCO in the Ministry of Education. This was the result of comprehensive support provided by Japan’s publishing industry following the UNESCO Meeting of Experts on Book Production and Distribution in 1966 and a request from UNESCO to establish a center to promote mutual cultural understanding in Asia. Since its inception, the center has supported the development of typefaces (a series of letter fonts designed for the use of printing technology) of the languages in Asian countries to contribute to the advancement of publication culture. ACCU started its support for literacy in 1981, after it recognized the issues of illiteracy while supporting book publishing.

ACCU has functioned as a hub organization, making use of its networks of administrators, experts, UNESCO, and NGOs in the Asia-Pacific region to work on literacy education, nonformal education, Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), and book production. In developing books and literacy materials, the center has adopted a joint venture approach, in which the needs and initiatives of developing countries are valued. For instance, it has developed master versions of books through planning, meetings, and collaborative work with experts in developing countries. Each country has then developed a version in their own language from the master version for nationwide dissemination and utilization. Twenty-nine children’s books (4.4 million copies in over 40 languages) and 67 literacy materials (in 34 languages in 19 countries) have been produced through this approach.

Since 2007, the center has focused its attention on literacy and women’s empowerment through practical programs. This has included conducting educational programs using an integrated approach of literacy in conjunction with maternal and child health in cooperation with local NGOs in some Asian countries. Since 2010, as a technical cooperation project of JICA, the center has carried out a capacity-building program with DMoEL, the Ministry of Education of Afghanistan, in collaboration with Koei Research and Consulting Inc., a Japanese development consultant. This was designed to improve its capacities in terms of the monitoring of literacy courses, assessment of learning achievements of learners, data collection and reporting, and the training of literacy facilitators in the country. The tools for monitoring, learners’ assessment, and data collection developed by DMoEL were included in the National Literacy Strategy of Afghanistan as standardized and effective tools for monitoring and evaluating literacy activities nationwide. In addition, a series of nationwide training sessions were provided for the personnel of the Provincial and District Literacy Centers of DMoEL to enhance their capacities to utilize the tools (Koarai & Takayanagi, 2016).

The characteristics of shifts in approaches to educational cooperation by ACCU are (1) utilizing its experience in a joint venture approach adopted through its support for book publishing in the subsequent development of literacy materials, (2) playing a leading role as a resource center for book development and literacy education in the Asia-Pacific region over the years, and (3) conducting literacy education and other projects with local partners.

2.4.2 NGOs Originally Established in Japan

The Shanti Volunteer Association (SVA) was established in 1981 to engage in educational and cultural support activities for refugees, largely generated in the aftermath of the Cambodian Civil War. After providing support in refugee camps in Thailand, as the refugees started to return to their country in the 1990s, SVA moved its operating bases to Cambodia and Laos to provide teacher training, construct school buildings, undertake book development, and support libraries. In Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR), where there was no electricity and most children had no textbooks, SVA set up Toshaban (mimeographs to print materials without electricity). In cooperation with the Educational Material Development Center of the Ministry of Education and Sports of Lao PDR, Toshaban were distributed to all primary schools in Lao PDR.

SVA has positioned library activities as a major educational activity and emphasized advocacy and the capacity building of education authorities. In Cambodia, SVA worked in partnership with the Provincial Offices of Education from 1993 to introduce library activities for school education. While doing so, SVA provided teacher training on library activities and supplied picture books to schools at the end of the training sessions. The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) valued the construction of school buildings and distribution of textbooks. Although MoEYS was initially skeptical about library activities, they observed the fact that the communication between teachers and children became more active, and more children wished to go to school because they wanted to listen to storytelling in the schools with active school libraries. Therefore, MoEYS decided to incorporate book reading activities into the curriculum of the training course for primary school teachers in 1998. In 2011, the Primary School Library Standards were formulated, specifying the assignment of librarians, the size of libraries, and the number of books. In 2015, MoEYS held official trainings of certified librarians utilizing its own budget for the first time. As of 2015, libraries had been set up in 3,880 of the 7,051 primary schools in Cambodia.

In summary, SVA demonstrated innovative educational practices and the effects of teaching materials, such as storytelling and Toshaban at a few target schools, and then expanded the scale to ultimately realize a system that functioned effectively.

Action with Lao Children was established in 1982 as the Association for Sending Picture Books to Lao Children, motivated by the activity of a Laotian woman who lived in Japan and had learned the benefits of picture books while reading stories to her child. She then organized the group to collect Japanese picture books at kindergarten fairs to send them to Laos so that Lao children could also enjoy the picture books. As there were few picture books in Lao PDR, they published books in Laotian in 1990, while Japanese experts provided training to cultivate authors, illustrators, and editors, who would take on key roles in publishing. By FY2017, a total of 900,000 copies of 219 books, including picture books, Kamishibai (paper theater originally invented in Japan), and books for adults had been issued. In addition, libraries were set up in 312 schools, and books were distributed to 2,732 schools among the 10,547 schools in Lao PDR. After realizing that books could not be effectively utilized by simply providing them, they began to focus on training teachers and education governance officers. The Educational Quality Standards of the Ministry of Education and Sports of Lao PDR, revised in 2012, made the improvement of reading environments compulsory by securing open reading spaces with registered books and by promoting reading promotion activities. Long-standing training of officials in the education authority by Action with Lao Children contributed to this. Moreover, they opened school libraries to local residents and supported the organization and operation of 14 children centers all over Lao PDR, where children can enjoy music, art and handicrafts, book reading, and playing, as schools in the country provide no education.

Action with Lao Children has worked to improve to improve its expertise in business and organizational operations, because they are aware that their enthusiasm alone cannot realize the planning and implementation of quality programs and that financing requires data demonstrating the effects of support. Meanwhile, they have held extensive exhibitions of Lao textiles and events to celebrate the Lao New Year for citizens for many years in Japan, which has propagated a better understanding of Lao culture and promoted participation in their programs.

In summary, Action with Lao Children has developed technical expertise in education and organizational management expertise, as well as promoting citizen participation.

The Community Action Development Organization (CanDo) was established in 1998, driven by the need for action to improve the hard lives of people living in slums in Nairobi and to address the issue of continuing migration from villages to slums. From its inception, CanDo has striven for quality programs and the self-reliance of local residents. While providing support for health and the environment, based on the development needs of residents, CanDo has, in each of these fields, emphasized education as the basis for residents to develop abilities to solve problems on their own. CanDo has been functioning as a catalyst that connects governmental agencies in diverse sectors. They have consistently emphasized the empowerment of residents and support for integrated capacity building of autonomous resident organizations. They have also provided capacity-building support in material management and technical training programs so that residents can build and repair classrooms in a sustainable manner without being influenced by fluctuations in the government’s educational policies or donors’ assistance guidelines. They have developed manuals and partnered with experts to implement the training of community health volunteers and administrators of the district medical offices. The incentive for them is only the sense of satisfaction acquired from the accomplishment of work, and cash or other payment is not offered. Although it is challenging, residents have thus become confident that they can manage by themselves, and some residents have completed the construction of classrooms on their own. By FY2016, classrooms had been built and repaired in 68 schools. Training on HIV/AIDS education was also provided for teachers, and environmental conservation activities were conducted in communities along with healthcare activities. CanDo was convinced that this 20-year-long support program aimed at building the autonomy of resident organizations in Kenya has enabled local human resources to continue the activities by themselves, and they put an end to their support activities in Kenya in 2018.

CanDo sent a total of 99 Japanese interns to Kenya for about 6 months each from the time of its inception up until 2017. Thirty of them worked for JICA, the UN, NGOs, or as development consultants, which indicates that CanDo has also contributed to human resource development.

In summary, CanDo has consistently emphasized education as providing the base for resident empowerment, without being influenced by the fluctuations of Kenya’s educational policy and donors’ assistance policies.

2.4.3 NGOs Established as Offices of International NGOs in Japan

The Japan Foster Plan Association, the predecessor of Plan International Japan (PLAN), was founded in 1983 as a Japanese member organization of an international NGO, Plan International (henceforth “Plan”), which was established in the UK in 1937. Plan provides educational cooperation as part of comprehensive community development in diverse sectors, such as healthcare and education, and promotes one-on-one exchanges between children in developing countries and sponsorship through a program called Plan Sponsorship. By providing support for each target area for 15–20 years, they have aimed to have local residents achieve development while receiving support from the government. Placing emphasis on education, Plan has invested the second biggest amount of its resources into education after emergency aid. Their educational programs focused on the improvement of access to education through the construction and repair of schools until 2000, and they have gradually shifted their attention to the multifaceted aspects of education such as systems, policies and laws, educational quality, improvement of accountability, and the participation of children and youth in society.

Through its campaign activities, Plan has also made efforts in advocacy while conducting educational programs. For instance, from 2008 to 2011, Plan undertook a campaign to promote schools without physical punishment, bullying, and sexual abuse in 30,000 schools, where over 50,000 teachers received training on instruction methods without physical punishment. They made it clear that violence based on gender at school inhibits female education, and they contributed to the development of laws and policies to stop violence in schools. In the campaign, which began in 2012, they have called for action to eliminate the gender gap in education and also appealed for the promotion of gender equality and an end to violence based on gender.

In summary, Plan has shifted from issues of school access to improved quality of education, promoted the participation of children and the young, and focused on campaigns to improve policies and accountability.

Save the Children Japan (SCJ) was established in 1986 as the Japan office of an international NGO, Save the Children (SC), which was founded in the UK in 1919. SCJ initially regarded education as one of the components of community development of slums and started its activities in the Philippines and Thailand. It supported education for marginalized children, such as ethnic minorities, those living in remote areas, and those affected by conflicts. As with other education-related aid organizations at the time, its educational cooperation initially focused on improving access to education through the construction of schools and provision of scholarships for children.

In addition to contributing to the drafting of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1989 and entered into force in 1990, SC emphasized the realization of children’s rights after the Convention came into effect. In 1999, it adopted an approach called Child Rights Programming, which focused on (1) taking direct actions to deal with disparities and violations of human rights; (2) urging duty bearers such as governments to fulfill their obligations, including policy changes; and (3) enhancing the capacities of communities to enable children and their caregivers to claim their rights and for duty bearers to fulfill their obligations.

In other words, through this approach, SC aimed not only to provide direct service delivery on behalf of duty bearers but also to urge governments to improve policies and legislation and enhance the capacities of communities and civil society to protect the rights of children. The definitive role of NGOs has, therefore, been considered as urging duty bearers to achieve accountability. One of the better applications of this approach can be seen in a project implemented by SCJ and a local NGO in Nepal. Their activities included discussions with local residents on the factors which hinder children’s schooling, such as child labor. Activities to address the problem included campaigns by children themselves to increase awareness in communities on the need to send children to school and raising local governments’ awareness of their roles as duty bearers in terms of increasing access to education in the supported area (SCJ, 2009).

SC has also been putting particular emphasis on advocacy at the international and national levels since the 2000s. As part of SC’s global campaign called Rewrite the Future, which was implemented from 2006 through 2010 with the aim of restoring the right to education of children affected by conflicts, SCJ carried out advocacy in Japan in collaboration with the network of NGOs. It has contributed to the acknowledgment of the importance of educational assistance in countries affected by conflict in the outcome document of the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit held in 2008. At the time of setting the SDGs, SCJ launched continuous proactive advocacy activities. It pointed out that, while the MDGs contributed to improving access to education, they also expanded disparities. SCJ thus urged stakeholders at various levels to shift to policies that would improve educational quality for every child. Currently, they are working on a campaign called Leave No One Behind to provide high-quality educational opportunities for the children of refugees, those living in remote areas, children of ethnic minorities, and children with disabilities.

The characteristics of the shift in approaches to educational cooperation by SCJ are (1) transition to a rights-based approach that values the participation of children and local communities as rights holders and encourages governments to fulfill their role as duty bearers, in addition to providing direct support for educational opportunities, (2) engaging in advocacy at various levels, and (3) offering concrete policies for governments to emphasize not only access to education but also its quality.

World Vision Japan (WVJ) was established in 1987 as the Japan office of World Vision (WV). WV is the world’s largest international NGO and was originally founded in the USA in 1950. From its inception, WV recognized education as an important factor that would directly benefit children and help them to become independent. It thus provided children with school uniforms, paid school fees, and gave out educational materials and stationery. Although it supported vulnerable individual children through charity at first, there was concern in the mid-1960s that some parents were appropriating the support fund for children and also that other children in the community were not benefiting, which meant that mere support for individual children was insufficient. As a result, its approach to aid shifted to promoting the self-reliance of the communities to which the children belonged. There was a further shift in the 1990s to providing support in districts and counties, which are wider areas than communities. Currently, WV also provides support at the provincial level.

Based on this approach, WVJ has provided educational cooperation as part of its development programs in various sectors to meet the needs of local residents while aiming for the self-reliance of each whole area being supported. It does this in consideration of the need to support the sound growth of children. While putting emphasis on educational quality, WVJ supports the improvement of the educational environment, including the construction of schools and the installation of bathrooms and desks, in line with local needs and the intentions of the Japanese sponsors. Moreover, they have provided vocational training, teacher training, awareness-raising, and adult literacy programs for parents and communities. It also incorporates an element of education into support for other sectors. Nutrition improvement programs, for example, include nutrition education and cooking classes. As another feature, WVJ organizes a children’s association in each region in order for children to be able to conduct proactive activities. Furthermore, receiving financial support mainly from the citizens of Japan, rather than depending on the government, has been considered one of its organizational strengths.

The main role of WVJ as a project-implementing agency led the organization to have a certain degree of hesitation in conducting advocacy activities. However, since the 2000s, it has positioned advocacy, emergency humanitarian relief, and development assistance as its three core activities in consideration of where the greatest needs lie. Since 2017, it has been conducting a campaign called “Take Back the Future” to eliminate violence against children through education in emergencies, including conflicts. WVJ values both advocacy and reflects the needs of children in direct program implementation to eliminate violence against children through education. For instance, it has provided educational opportunities for children affected by conflicts, including Syrian refugees in Jordan and South Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia.

The characteristics of shifts in the approaches to educational cooperation by WVJ are (1) a shift from charitable activities for each individual child to educational support aimed at the self-reliance of communities, (2) the expansion of regions to be supported, and (3) the focus on advocacy and education in emergencies.

2.4.4 Network Organizations for NGOs for Education

The Dakar Meeting, held in 2000, was a great opportunity for NGOs to promote the achievement of EFA goals. At the international level, in preparation for the Dakar Meeting, the Global Campaign for Education (GCE) was organized in 1999, composed of international NGOs such as Oxfam and ActionAid. It also included regional organizations of NGOs for education, such as the Asia South Pacific Association for Basic and Adult Education (ASPBAE), and national education NGO coalitions such as the Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE) in Bangladesh. GCE lobbied from the preparation stage of the Dakar Meeting and successfully included the sentence, “no countries seriously committed to education for all will be thwarted in their achievement of this goal by a lack of resources” in the Dakar Framework for Action. After the Dakar Meeting, on the basis of this sentence, GCE proposed to the international community a mechanism for resolving the funding shortages required to achieve EFA. It placed the responsibility on both donor countries and developing countries, urged the World Bank to take the lead, and secured an agreement at the G8 summit. As a result, the EFA Fast Track Initiative (current GPE) was established in 2002.

However, Japanese NGOs for education did not necessarily respond to this movement of NGOs around the world. JNNE was established in 2002 after the Dakar Meeting, and in 2004, it became a member of GCE. Around the time of JNNE’s foundation in FY2002, MOFA initiated the NGO Workshop as a program to enhance technical expertise in education, health, and rural development, which were the major fields of activities for NGOs. With funding provided by MOFA, JNNE developed guidelines on educational cooperation for NGOs and conducted capacity-building programs on education project management and the minimum standards for education in emergencies. As seen above, the major programs of JNNE were capacity building of NGOs in the field of education. They have also made efforts toward advocacy and campaigns since the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit in 2008.

In response to the call by GCE, JNNE has continually undertaken an EFA (SDG4 after 2016) campaign called the “World’s Biggest Lesson” for schools all over Japan. In the campaign, the teachers in participating schools have given lessons using teaching materials for EFA issues developed by the steering committee of the campaign. The campaign in 2015 saw the participation of 72,463 people from 780 schools and groups. Every year since 2010, they have also organized a lesson on EFA issues for Diet Members conducted by Japanese lower and upper secondary school students from Free the Children Japan, an NGO in which children take part in decision-making processes. It resulted in participation by a total of 156 Diet Members by 2017. Moreover, at least three Diet Members who participated in the lesson called for the enhancement of aid for basic education by the Japanese government at the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives and the Special Committee on ODA of the House of Councilors.

In order to improve the quality and quantity of Japan’s aid for education, JNNE has carried out advocacy based on evidence with MOFA, the Ministry of Finance, and Diet Members. It has proposed the promotion of financial support for the education sector as well as conventional project support to enable the Japanese government to contribute toward finding a solution to the overwhelming shortage of funds needed to achieve EFA. As a result of advocacy by JNNE, MOFA responded at the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives in 2009 that they would provide budget support for the education sector, including salaries for teachers and expenses for textbooks, when appropriate to supplement Japan’s project support. Furthermore, when the Scheme of Grant Aid for Poverty Reduction Strategy, which enabled financial support for education sectors, was threatened by the Government Project Review in 2012, JNNE lobbied Diet Members and the government. They undertook this action in cooperation with NGOs working in the fields of poverty reduction and healthcare, and the successful lobbying led to the continuance of the scheme.

2.5 The Characteristics of the History of Educational Cooperation by NGOs and Future Challenges

This chapter provided a review of educational cooperation by Japanese NGOs, considering the historical backdrop and remarkable factors at the time of their inception. This was followed by an analysis of the characteristics of shifts in approaches to educational cooperation by NGOs through the case studies of nine organizations. Based on this analysis, the following points can be offered in conclusion to the chapter.

First, Japanese NGOs for education prioritize basic education such as early childhood education, primary and secondary education, and adult literacy within the education sector, which in turn contributes to ensuring the right to education. In addition, while NGOs initially tended to focus solely on cooperation to improve access to education, such as the construction of school buildings, their emphasis has expanded to include the improvement of the quality of education, such as teacher training and the development of teaching materials. Japanese NGOs are contributing to the development of teaching and learning materials that utilize locally available resources, such as folk tales. They also contribute to the implementation and expansion of innovative programs, including learning activities in which children themselves take the initiative rather than being passive recipients of aid.

Second, in many cases, NGOs provide educational cooperation for the self-reliance of communities in the name of community development or livelihood improvement, integrating education into other sectors or issues such as environment, health, agriculture, and child labor. This is because such programs are planned in ways that can solve cross-sectoral issues in communities, not only to generate a synergistic effect and complement each other with other sectors. These programs are based on the philosophy that education contributes to the achievement of other development goals, while education and learning are in themselves rights and form the core of the empowerment of communities.

Third, most programs target marginalized children and adults, such as people in remote areas, native ethnic minorities, people living in urban slums, people with disabilities, and women, which has contributed to the realization of the philosophy of EFA, “Education for All” and that of the SDGs, “Leave no one behind.” Some organizations have started focusing on supporting education in countries affected by conflicts since 2000, when the need for emergency humanitarian relief increased.

Fourth, the values and philosophy of educational cooperation have shifted from the philanthropic philosophy of helping “pitiful” children who cannot go to school, to a rights-based approach and the philosophy of fairness and justice in which education is the right of children, and it is the responsibility of governments of developing countries and the international community to ensure this. The roles of NGOs have, therefore, shifted to becoming change agents involved in conducting advocacy and campaigns at various levels to urge duty bearers to play their fundamental roles. These roles are therefore quite different from merely being service providers on behalf of or complementary to governments.

Fifth, in order to ensure the quality and accountability of programs, efforts have been made to enhance the expertise of NGO staff, and organizations have become more professional, as required by both donors and beneficiaries.

Lastly, there are several challenges and future opportunities in education cooperation programs conducted by Japanese NGOs. Although Japanese NGOs have the advantage of implementing innovative basic education programs at the grassroots level, it is important to enhance the replicability and to expand the scale of programs, particularly as NGO programs are usually at a smaller scale with fewer beneficiaries compared to educational cooperation programs of ODA and the UN. Furthermore, it is necessary to enhance the ownership of the education governance agencies in developing countries by establishing partnerships with them. This, as well as involving the local communities from the time of planning of the project, helps to ensure sustainability after the project ends. It is also important to urge government agencies in developing countries to adopt the modules and manuals for teacher training as well as teaching and learning materials developed by NGOs in order to institutionalize them. It is also desirable to seek further strategic partnerships with JICA and international organizations in order to realize these goals. If it is financially difficult for the government of a developing country to realize the expansion of project activities, it is also necessary to ensure efforts are undertaken at diverse levels to make use of external resources such as GPE.

Meanwhile, in order to guarantee the independence and neutrality of NGOs and the self-reliance and stability of their finances, it is vital to increase their own resources through donations and income-generation activities and to strive to reduce dependency on governmental funds. There are some organizations that have strategically utilized government funds while increasing their own resources using their own original methods to gather donations, as typified by WVJ. In addition, it is challenging to strike an appropriate balance in the value of citizenship in organizations based on citizen spontaneity and the expertise of professionals working in educational cooperation.

While Japanese NGOs for education have worked on innovative educational cooperation programs, it seems that the more innovative a program is, the more necessary it is to demonstrate the achievements and impacts of the program through evidence. It is also essential to carry out advocacy based on evidence. For this purpose, it is desirable to strengthen the systems of monitoring and evaluation and to enhance the capacities of NGOs to undertake research and study.