1 Paradigm Shift in the Development and Expansion of Japan’s ODA (1990s)

The 1990s marked the transition to a period in which international discourses had a strong impact on Japanese policy and the practice of international cooperation in education. It was also a period when the Government of Japan formulated the Official Development Assistance (ODA) Charter for the first time. Based on the Charter, policies and measures were prepared and adjusted in response to situations at home and abroad.

This chapter examines the characteristics and changes in Japanese policies toward international cooperation in education based on Kunizukuri wa hitozukuri (human resource development for nation-building). It analyzes the factors that are considered to have influenced them. Major events during this period are summarized in Table 3.1.

Table 3.1 International education cooperation policies after 1990 and major relevant factors

1.1 From Economic Growth to Human Development

After World War II, as many developing countries were gaining political independence, the major focus of international development was the achievement of economic growth to overcome various socioeconomic problems, a goal supported by developed countries. The First United Nations Development Decade of the 1960s was initiated by President Kennedy of the United States and served as a pillar for growth. Development progress was measured by macroeconomic indices, such as the national economic growth rate and gross domestic product (GDP). This approach changed significantly in the 1990s.

The year 1990 is considered to be particularly important. In that year, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) published the first issue of the Human Development Report, which incorporated the Human Development Index (HDI) (UNDP, 1990). The report placed human development at the center of development, through the building and use of human capabilities. This approach was grounded significantly in Amartya Sen’s “capability approach,” which sought to more accurately understand and improve the state of the poor (e.g., Sen, 1985). The Human Development Reports contrast with the World Development Reports (WDRs) published by the World Bank, which have annually focused on a specific theme related to economic development. Interestingly, it was also this year that the World Bank selected “poverty” as the theme of the WDR 1990. Behind this, there was some severe criticism of previous development efforts that had overemphasized macroeconomic policies. Most notably, the structural adjustment policy led by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank in the 1980s had a strong negative impact on many developing countries and resulted in making the lives of people, particularly the socially vulnerable, more difficult (Cornea et al., 1987).

Thus, principles that had focused on growth-centered development now began to emphasize humans, society, and the environment. The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) (Earth Summit) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992 and the World Summit for Social Development in 1995 (Copenhagen, Denmark) prompted the development of such a movement. In addition, in 1995, the fourth World Conference on Women was held in Beijing, which called for expediting the mainstreaming of women’s rights and gender equality.

1.2 Establishment of the International Framework for Education Development

The World ConferenceFootnote 1 on Education for All (EFA) was held in Jomtien, Thailand, in 1990. EFA has led the global mode of education development over the quarter of a century since then, having had a decisive influence on the educational policies of each country and educational assistance from the international community for developing countries. The Jomtien Declaration adopted at the conference reaffirmed education as a human rightFootnote 2 and expressed that “every person – child, youth and adult – shall be able to benefit from educational opportunities designed to meet their basic learning needs” (UNESCO, 1990: Declaration p. 3). The Framework for Action: Meeting Basic Learning Needs, which was adopted with the Declaration, stipulated six dimensions of targets: (1) expansion of the support for early childhood care and development (ECCD), (2) universal access to primary education, (3) improvement in learning achievement, (4) reduction of adult illiteracy, (5) basic education and training in other skills required by youth and adults, and (6) the knowledge, skills, values, and behavioral changes required for better living and sustainable development (UNESCO, 1990).

The second item, which is related to primary education, states the importance of “universal access to, and completion of, primary education (or whatever higher level of education is considered “basic”) by the year 2000” (UNESCO, 1990: Framework for Action p. 3). However, these six items were not necessarily agreed upon as globally common goals. The Framework only gently stated that “countries may wish to set their own targets for the 1990s in terms of the following proposed dimensions” (ibid., Framework for Action p. 3). In addition, the basic learning needs, universal access to basic education, and promotion of fairness, which were stipulated in the Declaration, were replaced with a more general phrase, “universal access to primary education” in the Framework, using the school enrollment rate in primary education as a representative indicator.Footnote 3 The core objective of the Declaration was “to meet basic learning needs,” which also served as the subtitle of the declaration. However, this objective did not make much headway, because the priority focus of each country was to improve school enrollment rates.

The international movements related to education in this period also included International Literacy Year, proclaimed by the United Nations (UN) (1990), and the World Conference on Special Needs Education (1994), which adopted the Salamanca Statement endorsing the commitment to inclusive education. They also included the start of the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education (1995) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)’s World Declaration on Higher Education for the Twenty-First Century (1998).

Particularly noteworthy is the report titled Learning: The Treasure Within, which the International Commission on Education for the Twenty-first Century submitted to UNESCO in 1996. This report, known as the Delors Report, was named after the Chairman of the commission and presented the four pillars of learning: “learning to know,” “learning to do,” “learning to live together,” and “learning to be.” It recommended that we should review our approach to society and our own lives. In response, it advocated a lifelong learning approach (UNESCO, 1996). The approach using these four pillars has served as the basis of discussions on education development to date.

1.3 The ODA Charter During the ODA Expansion Period

In the postwar era, beginning in the 1950s, Japan undertook to gradually institutionalize its ODA. It also attempted to increase the volume of ODA twofold in each phase of the medium-term targetsFootnote 4 over the 1970s and 1980s, thus achieving rapid increases in size. In 1989, Japan became the world’s top donor for the first time in terms of net ODA disbursements. While other major donor countries exhibited “aid fatigue” throughout the 1990s, Japan maintained its position as the world’s largest donor. Expansion of ODA enhanced the presence of Japan, whose economy was the second largest in the world. Amid the tense global situation, highlighted by the end of the Cold War and the outbreak of the Gulf War, the government felt it was necessary to explain Japan’s basic position on its aid policy. In June 1992, the Cabinet approved Japan’s Official Development Assistance Charter.

The Charter is the highest ODA policy in Japan. It sets out Japan’s stance in four areas of basic philosophy: efforts toward tackling famine and poverty from a humanitarian viewpoint, interdependence among nations of the international community, environmental conservation as a task for all humankind, and self-help efforts toward economic takeoff. The purpose of ODA was set as “developing a wide range of human resources and socioeconomic infrastructure, including domestic systems, [… .] thereby promoting sound economic development” (Government of Japan [GoJ], 1992). While identifying Asia as a priority region and paying due consideration to the least developed countries, the Charter set out global problems, basic human needs (BHN), human resource development and research cooperation, infrastructure improvement, and structural adjustment as priority issues and the targets of support. It stipulated that “a priority of Japan’s ODA will be placed on assistance to human resource development which, in the long term, is the most significant element of self-help efforts” (GoJ, 1992). However, the word “education” as an individual target sector to support was not found in the Charter.

Meanwhile, following the ODA Charter, a Medium-Term Policy was formulated in 1999 and included more in-depth and specific content. Among the priority issues was “support for poverty alleviation programs and social development,” and it was stated that “assistance for basic education and health and medical services plays a critical role” (GoJ, 1999).

The Medium-Term Policy made reference to the New Development Strategy,Footnote 5 adopted by the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which included universal primary education and elimination of gender disparities in primary and secondary education among the Strategy’s goals. Regarding this recognition, the Medium-Term Policy stated that “In addition to hardware-oriented assistance for the construction of schools and provision of equipment and materials, Japan will upgrade its advisory assistance in the areas of both course development and educational administration, including assistance for the enhancement of system and capacity building in school administration, curriculum and teaching materials development, and teacher training” (GoJ, 1999). It also stated that “Japan will pay special attention to supporting basic education for girls” and efforts will be made “to promote community participation” (GoJ, 1999).

As for the aid policy for Africa, the Government of Japan continued to convene the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) after the first one was held in 1993. The Tokyo Declaration adopted at the first TICAD did not refer to the field of education, other than a reference to “investment in human capital through … education programmes.” The second TICAD (1998) strongly promoted poverty reduction and adopted African Development Towards the 21st Century: The Tokyo Agenda for Action. It made deliberations on priority actions by grouping African countries into three categories: post-conflict countries, those facing low enrollments and low literacy, and those that have achieved a more developed education system. It identified the following goals and objectives (MOFA, 1998):

  1. 1.

    By 2005, ensure that at least 80% of children complete primary education, with universal primary education by 2015.

  2. 2.

    By 2005, reduce adult illiteracy to half of the 1990 level, emphasizing improvements in female literacy.

  3. 3.

    Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education by 2005.

  4. 4.

    Improve the quality of education, and strengthen linkages between education and employment.

  5. 5.

    Enhance national and regional capacities in the area of science and technology (MOFA, 1998).

These aims also drew on the New Development Strategy. In accordance with the Tokyo Agenda for Action, Japan’s New Assistance Programs for Africa provided a financial commitment of grant aid of approximately 90 billion yen over the next 5 years to the BHN sector, in areas such as education, health and medical care, and water supplies, including new educational facilities for approximately two million schoolchildren.

1.4 Emphasis on Basic Education and the Development of the Implementation System for Educational Cooperation

In concert with these moves at home and abroad, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) initiated the Study Group on Development Assistance for Development and Education in September 1992 at the request of JICA’s president, and the Study Group submitted its report in January 1994. While the government had yet to develop policy guidelines in the field of education, JICA, an aid-implementing agency, used the report of the Study Group of leading experts to justify a change of direction in education aid. By analyzing the importance of education in development from multiple perspectives, the report presented recommendations on three basic policies: the expansion of educational assistance (twofold by 2000), emphasis on assistance to basic education, and assistance according to the stage of education development.

In those days, higher education and vocational training accounted for the majority of educational cooperation, apart from the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) projects. The report reflected on that, noting that “it was thought that basic education is not well suited to aid programs because basic education involves people’s morals, values, and customs, and accordingly aid in this area touches on a nation’s culture and sovereignty” (JICA, 1994, pp. 39–40). However, it continued to justify the aid particularly for the purpose of universalizing basic education and its qualitative improvement on the grounds that “major successes can be expected from careful and flexible approaches” (JICA, 1994, p. 40). Based on this understanding, it identified the priority areas as education in mathematics and science in basic education, female education, education for the socially disadvantaged, and nonformal education. As priority issues, it identified the strengthening of education governance; training and upgrading of teaching staff; development of curriculum, textbooks, and teaching materials; and improvement of school facilities (JICA, 1994).

Meanwhile, at the Ministry of Education (MOE), the report of the advisory board on International Cooperation in Education to Meet Current Needs was submitted in June 1996. In the absence of a policy document regarding bilateral cooperation in education, other than the one on increasing foreign students, it was the first time MOE had sought to indicate specific guiding principles and measures (Kuroda, 2005). The report made recommendations on seven measures: the strengthening of collaboration and cooperation among relevant organizations, development of a system of clerical work and gathering and utilization of information for the purpose of educational cooperation, establishment of international cooperation centers (tentative name), promotion of the dispatch of teaching staff, development of a system to accept training participants from developing countries, development of consultants, and development of human resource in development assistance (MOE, 1996). In response, starting with the establishment of the Center for the Study of International Cooperation in Education at Hiroshima University (April 1997), research centers were established for agricultural science at Nagoya University (April 1999), for medical science at the University of Tokyo (April 2000), for engineering at Toyohashi University of Technology (April 2001), for education development at the University of Tsukuba (April 2002), and for law at Nagoya University (April 2002).

2 The Trend of International Development Frameworks and Japan’s Education Cooperation Policy (Early 2000s)

2.1 The MDGs and Dakar Framework for Action on EFA

Before the arrival of the new millennium, the international development practice intensified its emphasis on poverty reduction and human development. President Wolfensohn of the World Bank put forward the Comprehensive Development Framework (CDF), which approached development in developing countries holistically by going beyond sector boundaries (1998). In addition, the IMF and the World Bank introduced measures that combined debt relief for developing countries with poverty reduction. These initiatives led to the extended requirement for Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) (1999) to be prepared by all low-income countries in order to benefit from their financial support.

In September 2000, the UN held the Millennium Summit and adopted the Millennium Declaration. In September 2001, the UN Secretary-General presented the Road Map Towards the Implementation of the UN Millennium Declaration. The road map encapsulated major development goals that were internationally agreed upon during the 1990s to formulate the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs consisted of 8 goals, 21 targets, and 60 indicators to be achieved by 2015. Setting the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger as the first goal, the MDGs placed the achievement of universal primary education as the second goal. This goal was underpinned by the target of the completion of primary education of all children by 2015. Furthermore, the third goal of promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment also adopted an education target: to eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and to do so in all education stages by no later than 2015 (United Nations, 2001).Footnote 6 As a result, education development was placed as a part of more Comprehensive Development Frameworks. The launch of the MDGs that included education-related goals meant that education was recognized as a means of growth and at the same time as a major component of development.

In April 2000, the target year to achieve universal primary education, the World Education Forum was held in Dakar, Senegal. The Forum recognized that the number of school-aged out-of-school children had not decreased significantly from a figure of more than 100 million in 1990. In reaffirming the vision of the Jomtien World Declaration on EFA, the Forum adopted the Dakar Framework for Action. In this framework for action, six goals were stipulated, with a stronger expression than the Jomtien Framework for Action; that is, “we hereby collectively commit ourselves to the attainment of the following goals” (UNESCO, 2000, p. 8). Those goals are as follows:

(1) expanding and improving comprehensive early childhood care and education (ECCE); (2) ensuring that by 2015 all children have access to and complete, free and compulsory primary education of good quality; (3) ensuring that the learning needs of all young people and adults are met; (4) achieving a 50 per cent improvement in levels of adult literacy by 2015; (5) eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005, and achieving gender equality in education by 2015; (6) improving all aspects of the quality of education. (UNESCO, 2000, p. 8)

Thus, countries and the international community had to work with two major frameworks, one on development, MDGs, and another on education, the EFA Dakar Framework for Action.

In 2002, the EFA Fast Track Initiative (EFA-FTI which was reconstituted in 2011 as the Global Partnership for Education (GPE)) was launched with the aim of expediting the achievement of EFA objectives by providing financial support to poverty-stricken developing countries. The EFA-FTI, which was agreed at the joint World Bank-IMF Development Committee meeting in spring 2002, was a mechanism established within the World Bank initially for the purpose of accelerating universal primary completion in low-income countries. In the early stage, the EFA-FTI used the Indicative Framework as a benchmark to guide its recipient countries in efficiently utilizing education resources. The framework was developed based on the analysis of education and financial indicators of developing countries that had already achieved or nearly achieved the EFA (Education for All-Fast Track Initiative, 2004). The EFA-FTI also emphasized the principles of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, as will be discussed later.

In this period, when basic education was clearly emphasized in policies and approaches toward international cooperation in education, the EFA Global Monitoring Report of UNESCO consistently criticized certain donors including Japan for their relatively low share of education in their overall ODA disbursements and for their low percentage of basic education in education assistance (UNESCO, 2004, 2005, 2007).

2.2 Progress of International Aid Coordination

In the 1990s, the governments of aid recipient countries and aid agencies proactively implemented project-based assistance to solve mainly individual educational issues (e.g., to address school enrollment issues in rural areas or reduce the gender gap in education). As a result, in aid recipient countries, many projects were simultaneously supported by multiple aid agencies. This led to various problems including managerial burdens on recipient governments, increases in transaction costs, duplication or lack of support for some education issues, and a decrease in local ownership. In response, the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the OECD adopted the Rome Declaration on Harmonization in 2003 and the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness in 2005. The Paris Declaration stressed five principles: (1) ownership of partner countries (by using medium-term expenditure frameworks, participation of civil society, etc.), (2) alignment (aid using the partner country’s own institutions and systems for procurement, public financial management, etc.), (3) harmonization (program-based aid modality and division of labor based on donors’ comparative advantage), (4) managing for results, and (5) mutual accountability (OECD, 2005).

The principles of the Paris Declaration define the basic approach to international cooperation in general, as well as in the field of education. The emergence of new perspectives on aid effectiveness triggered the increased application of sector-wide approaches (SWAPs)Footnote 7 in which multiple donors provided development assistance for the entire sector (e.g., education). In addition, the general budget support that transfers donor funds directly to the recipient government’s national treasury, as well as the sector budget support that promotes the improvement of a specific sector by channeling resources through the treasury, has gained popularity, justified by the principles of harmonization, alignment, and program-based aid, in line with the Paris Declaration principles. The principles were subsequently adopted by GPE, the EFA-FTI’s successor and one of the most influential mechanisms of global education development, and were established as a firm foundation for aid architecture (Yoshida, 2009).

Japan attempted to take advantage of its unique strength in assistance by means of technical cooperation projects and strove to catch up with the mainstream direction of aid coordination but often faced difficulties in the local context and in the international arena because of its reservations about participating in the budget support approach.

2.3 New ODA Charter and the 2005 Medium-Term Policy on ODA

The Government of Japan revised the ODA Charter in August 2003 in response to emerging intricately intertwined problems such as economic and social globalization, the September 11 terrorist attacks, domestic conflicts, and other global issues including environmental problems and infectious diseases. The new Charter maintained its emphasis on supporting the self-help efforts of developing countries and introduced the “human security” approach.Footnote 8 Human security provided the core principles of the Charter, together with fairness, utilization of Japan’s experience and expertise, and partnership and collaboration with the international community. It identified poverty reduction, sustainable growth, addressing global issues, and peacebuilding as priority issues. Education, in parallel with healthcare, water, and agriculture, was emphasized for the purpose of poverty reduction. However, the new ODA Charter made reference to educational activities only indirectly through human development, social development, human resource development for sustainable growth, acceptance of exchange students, and cooperation for research (GoJ, 2003).

Based on the new Charter, the Medium-Term Policy on ODA was announced in February 2005. The policy stipulated education-related activities as direct assistance to the poor, saying “Japan will seek to improve hygiene conditions and raise awareness by providing wells and latrines in its school construction projects in poor areas, and to improve children’s nutrition through school meals.” It planned to do this as a poverty reduction measure, one of the priority issues. It also referred to the development of infrastructure to improve access to schools (GoJ, 2005, p. 6). Moreover, with regard to human resource development for sustainable growth, the second priority issue, it expressed support for education as a whole “to improve basic education, higher education, and vocational training … and to assist the development of human resources in a wide range of fields by, among other measures, providing scholarships to study at higher education institutions in Japan” (GoJ, 2005, p. 11).

Although it incorporated an awareness that “the MDGs consist to a large extent of targets relating to the social sector, such as education and public health” (GoJ, 2005, pp. 4–5), this Medium-Term Policy did not refer to human development but emphasized the role of education in contribution to growth. In addition, to understand the actual state of poverty, it stated that “networking with governments, NGOs, universities, research institutions, and private enterprises will be strengthened” (GoJ, 2005, p. 5). The policy also urged the strengthening of functions at the field level, mainly through country-based ODA Task ForcesFootnote 9 participating in the formulation of country assistance programs and sector assistance strategies and making efforts to formulate model projects by combining grant aid, yen loans, and technical cooperation (GoJ, 2005).

2.4 Strengthening the Enabling Conditions for Basic Education Support (in Japan)

On the occasion of the G8 Summit held in Kananaskis, Canada, in June 2002, the government announced the Basic Education for Growth Initiative (BEGIN). It was the first international education cooperation policy aside from policies to increase foreign student numbers. At its beginning, the policy quoted the “Spirit of the One Hundred Sacks of Rice,” drawn from a historical anecdoteFootnote 10 shared by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi at the Genoa Summit in 2001. The policy stated that “investment in education, underlain by a commitment to ownership, is a vital means for poverty reduction in developing countries” (GoJ, 2002). It signified the importance of basic education from the perspective of not only human development but also “fostering human resources for nation-building” (GoJ, 2002).

Along the lines of the Dakar Framework for Action, the MDGs, and human security, the BEGIN policy’s basic philosophy encompassed the “emphasis on a commitment by the governments of developing countries and support of ownership,” “recognition of cultural diversity and promotion of mutual understanding,” “collaboration and cooperation with the international community,” “community involvement and the utilization of local resources,” “linkages with other development sectors,” and “utilization of Japan’s experience in education” (GoJ, 2002). Access to education, its quality, and management were considered to be pillars of support. Assistance for ensuring access to education included the construction of school-related facilities to meet different needs, reduce gender disparities, provide opportunities for nonformal education, and utilize ICT.

For improvements in the quality of education, the BEGIN included assistance for science and mathematics education, fostering and training teachers, and improving school administrative and operational capabilities as policy measures. For educational management, the support would cover the formulation of education policies and education plans, as well as the improvement of the education governance system. The policy further recognized the emerging presence of the EFA-FTI and the need to provide support for post-conflict education. It also indicated new perspectives such as institutional strengthening to support self-help efforts, human resource development, and SWAPs (GoJ, 2002). On the occasion of the announcement of BEGIN, the government pledged 250 billion yen or more to be provided in the field of education for low-income countries over 5 years (including areas other than basic education).

During this period, international cooperation in education through ODA saw a sizeable expansion in favor of basic education, which had attracted limited attention thus far. As far as JICA’s technical cooperation is concerned, the portfolio for basic education had grown as large as the support for higher education and vocational training by the mid-2000s.

Efforts were also made to strengthen domestic institutional arrangements for international education cooperation by focusing on basic education. At the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT),Footnote 11 the Committee for International Cooperation in Education had submitted its report in 1996 (aforementioned), 2000, and 2002. In order to fulfill Japan’s response to the Dakar Framework for Action, the 2002 report suggested the necessity of promoting in-service teachers and strengthening cooperation for primary and secondary education by utilizing Japan’s experience in education. Specifically, it proposed to (1) establish the “cooperation base system” to strengthen cooperation in primary and secondary education, (2) establish a support center to promote universities’ participation in international development cooperation projects on a contractual basis, and (3) develop the domestic system through the establishment of the International Development Strategy Research Centre (tentatively named) (MEXT, 2002). Following the report’s recommendations, the “cooperation base system” started to operate in FY 2003, through which projects were implemented to share experiences in educational cooperation, provide support to dispatch in-service teachers using the JOCV scheme, and boost areas where there was limited prior experience in cooperation. These were implemented over 3 years.

Subsequently, in response to the FY 2006 report of the Committee for International Cooperation in Education titled University-Launched Intellectual ODA: For Intellectual International Contribution, the International Cooperation Initiatives commenced. Universities, on a contractual basis, implemented the following projects over five areas until FY2010: the utilization of Japan’s experience in education and research, promotion of education for sustainable development (ESD), support for teachers to be dispatched as JOCVs, formation of an intellectual support network, and the organization and management of related information (MEXT, 2006).

In October 2008, by partially amending the Act of the Incorporated Administrative Agency—Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA Act)—JICA acquired the ODA loans operations of the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC). It also took over the grant aid that had conventionally been managed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), except specific aid that MOFA retained and managed directly for diplomatic policy purposes. Consequently, the new JICA has become a comprehensive aid-implementing agency that uses three aid modalities: technical cooperation, ODA loans, and grant aid.

In July 2008, Japan chaired the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit. The Summit’ Leaders Declaration included education-related text that made references to universal completion of primary education as a priority issue and a good balance between primary and post-primary education. It covered educational issues in Africa, such as the shortage of teachers and learning outcomes, teacher training, school health, and school feeding. It also paid specific attention to countries affected by conflicts, to girls, and to marginalized populations, as well as support for the efforts of the EFA-FTI. Before the Summit, Japan co-chaired the technical meeting of the EFA-FTI in April, and MOFA organized an international symposium on EFA jointly with Waseda University and Hiroshima University.

In this period, the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD) (2005–2014), originally proposed by Japan, was launched, with UNESCO serving as the leading agency. ESD advocates that every human being transforms the knowledge, skills, values, attitudes, and lifestyle as well as transforms the socioeconomic system in all social contexts into those needed for sustainable development (Japanese National Commission for UNESCO, 2007). Ten years later, Japan was to host the World Conference on ESD, which was followed by the adoption of the ESD Global Action Plan. ESD now plays a central role in orienting the direction of education development and achieving the entire Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

3 Expanded Scope of Development Cooperation and the International Education Cooperation Policy in the SDG Era

3.1 Arrival of the SDG Era

In September 2015, the UN Sustainable Development Summit adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Central to the Agenda was the adoption of the SDGs, providing a new framework for international development to take the place of the MDGs. Consisting of 17 goals and 169 targets, the SDGs covered a broader range of global issues compared to the MDGs. Education was placed as the fourth goal (SDG 4), which was comprised of seven targets and three means of implementation under the overall goal, to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” (UN, 2015, p. 17). The seven targets are as follows:

  1. 4.1

    By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes

  2. 4.2

    By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care, and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education

  3. 4.3

    By 2030, ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational, and tertiary education, including university

  4. 4.4

    By 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs, and entrepreneurship

  5. 4.5

    By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, and children in vulnerable situations

  6. 4.6

    By 2030, ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy

  7. 4.7

    By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship, and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development. (UN, 2015, p. 17)

Being incorporated into the SDGs, it was inevitable that the educational goal would be aspirational, universal, and transformative, which are common characteristics of all the SDGs. SDG 4 emphasized learning outcomes more than the Dakar Framework for Action did, expanding the coverage of free education to the full cycle of secondary education (up to high school level in the case of Japan) and requiring aspirational and challenging hurdles to be cleared at all the educational stages including the transition from school to work. Particularly noteworthy is Target 4.7, which characterizes the core messages on the values and behaviors that are essential for achieving the entire SDGs. It urges transformation of where our development and daily lifestyle are heading to, which all countries and people should live up to. SDG 4 is fully consistent with the Incheon Declaration adopted at the World Education Forum in April 2015 and with the Education 2030 Framework for Action that succeeded the Dakar Framework for Action (UNESCO, 2015b). It was a result of the conscious consideration to avoid the confusion experienced in the 2000s due to having two frameworks: the education-related goals included in the MDGs and the Dakar Framework for Action (Yoshida, 2016).

International education cooperation during the SDG era requires developing countries to achieve results from another perspective as well. It comes from a mechanism to provide them with financial support in exchange for achieving performance targets that have been pre-defined in international cooperation negotiations—in other words, the spread of the mechanism called results-based financing (RBF). At the Incheon World Education Forum, World Bank President Kim pledged to double RBF operations for education to 5 billion dollars over the next 5 years (World Bank, 2015). Likewise, GPE also introduced the financing method incorporating RBF in 2015. The combined effects of RBF on top of the major principles of SDG 4—namely, inclusiveness, equity, and quality learning—have meant that developing countries face daunting challenges in workings toward education development.

3.2 Increase in Political Interest in the Reconstruction of Japan

At a time when domestic economic stagnation continued, the Great East Japan Earthquake suddenly hit Japan in March 2011, with devastating consequences. The cabinet decided on the New Growth Strategy: Blueprint for Revitalizing Japan in June 2010 and the Basic Strategy for the Revitalization of Japan in December 2011. They finally announced the Japan Revitalization Strategy: Japan Is Back in June 2013. The major common issues were reconstruction from the earthquake disaster, recovery from the nuclear power plant accident, and the growth of Japan’s economy. The Basic Strategy stated that by overcoming the introverted orientation and promoting proactive international contribution and cooperation through providing Japan’s excellent systems and technologies such as health, medical care, and education, we should contribute to the realization of “human security” through inclusive growth in the world (GoJ, 2011).

In concert with this, MEXT started the Dissemination of Japanese-Style Education Using the Public-Private Collaborative Platform (EDU-Port Japan Project) in 2016. This platform anticipated cooperation and participation by forging partnerships between broad actors in Japan, including MOFA, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), JICA, JETRO, educational institutions, private businesses, and NGOs. It implemented pilot projects, officially recognized or partly financed, by various players who were not conventionally involved with international cooperation in education through ODA.

3.3 Comprehensive International Education Cooperation Policy

At the High-Level Plenary Meeting of the UN General Assembly held in September 2010, where the final acceleration of the MDGs was launched, Prime Minister Naoto Kan announced the Kan Commitment to provide 3.5 billion dollars in assistance in the field of education and 5 billion dollars in the field of healthcare over 5 years starting in 2011. Simultaneously, the government announced Japan’s Education Cooperation Policy 2011–2015, Education for Human Security: Building Human Capacity, Nations, and World Peace through Educational Development.

This policy advocated promoting education through an integrated approach to human rights, development, and peace in order to realize human security. Its basic principles included support for self-help efforts and sustainable development, support for marginalized populations, and respect for cultural diversity and the promotion of mutual understanding. The policy indicated that education for peace and human rights, the foremost value of the UN and UNESCO, and education for development, which has been argued in the form of human resource development, have inseparably interrelated characteristics. As priority sub-sectors, the policy referred to the improvement of a comprehensive learning environment and strengthening of support to the EFA-FTI under the concept of the School for All model, vocational training and higher education to respond to the knowledge-based society, and education for peace and security. Under this approach, the improvement of teachers’ competencies and lesson studies to improve learning outcomes were discussed. There were also discussions on support for schools open to local communities and inclusive education, including creating a safe learning environment, improvement of school-based management, and literacy education (see Chap. 6).

For higher education, examples of measures were presented in the policy: the ASEAN University Network/the Southeast Asia Engineering Education Development Network (AUN/SEED-Net), support for the establishment of the regional centers of excellence building on Japan’s strengths such as the Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology (E-JUST), and the promotion of a collaborative network among researchers and policymakers in Asia and Africa. In addition, the policy aimed to increase aid effectiveness by maximizing Japan’s strengths by participating in the education policy formulation process, linking with other development sectors, promoting South-South Cooperation, and forging partnerships with a broad array of actors in Japan (GoJ, 2010). This was the first education cooperation policy that targeted the entire scope of education.

3.4 Development Cooperation Charter and the New Education Cooperation Policy

Under the MDGs, international cooperation that highlighted human and social development, such as poverty reduction, education, and health, gained momentum internationally, with Japan also responding to this. Japan’s economic stagnation continued, and the ODA budget of the Japanese government decreased to 618.7 billion yen in 2010, which was just over half of that at its peak in 1997 (1,116.8 billion yen). Under such circumstances, the Government of Japan decided on a revised Development Cooperation Charter at the Cabinet in February 2015.

The new Charter envisaged the participation of various actors, taking into account the increased roles of funds and activities played outside ODA and the post-2015 development agenda, the SDGs. It took over the basic policies of the previous Charter: nonmilitary cooperation, human security, assistance for self-help efforts, and cooperation based on Japan’s experience and expertise. “Quality growth” with “resilience” was identified as a priority issue, along with poverty eradication, sharing of universal values, and addressing global issues through such growth. The goal was to “promote people-centered development that supports basic human life” (GoJ, 2015a, p. 6). It presented Japan’s intention to provide the necessary assistance toward quality education for all, disparity reduction, and other matters. It was the first time that the Charter referred to “quality education for all.” In addition, to take advantage of Japan’s strengths, it envisaged an approach to cooperation in which “Japan will proactively adopt proposals from various actors in the private and other sectors. It also encouraged working with universities and research institutions to make good use of their expertise and seek out their untapped capabilities” (GoJ, 2015a, p. 10).

Building on this Charter, in September 2015, the government announced a new international education cooperation policy entitled Learning Strategy for Peace and Growth: Achieving Quality Education through Mutual Learning. With the vision of Learning for All, All for Learning, the three guiding principles were identified as follows: (1) educational cooperation to achieve inclusive, equitable, and quality learning; (2) educational cooperation for industrial, science, and technology human resource development and sustainable socioeconomic development; and (3) establishment and expansion of global and regional networks for educational cooperation (GoJ, 2015b, p. 3). The first principle focused on quality education, safe learning environment, improvement of school-based management, community participation, and inclusive education, bringing school education, nonformal education, and lifelong learning into perspective. It indicated cooperation for female education, conflict-affected countries, and marginalized populations who are deprived of access to quality education (GoJ, 2015b, p. 5).

The second principle was focused on ensuring seamless support from primary education to secondary and higher education, acquisition of generally applicable skills, liaison with the African Business Education Initiative for Youth (ABE Initiative),Footnote 12 and the promotion of mathematics and science education, engineering education, and ESD. To realize these objectives, it emphasized efforts toward the establishment of broad networks, cooperation with international organizations, participation by a wide range of actors, mutual collaboration with other development sectors, and linkages between policy, implementation, and outcomes. As with the previous policy, it included references to monitoring, evaluation, and information provision and communication (GoJ, 2015b).

3.5 Progress of Internationalization of Higher Education

In July 2008, the government announced the 300,000 International Students Plan, the first announcement of its kind since the Plan to Accept 100,000 Foreign Students.Footnote 13 As part of developing a “global strategy” to make Japan a nation more open to the world and expand the flow of people, materials, money, and information between Japan and Asia and the world, it aimed to accept 300,000 students from abroad by around 2020. It was not only to simply double the number of international students from approximately 140,000 at that time but was also seen as a way to promote the internationalization of universities through developing centers of excellence for globalization, expanding the number of courses taught in English, and promoting double-degree and short-term study abroad programs. Concurrently, it attempted to promote the globalization of Japanese society by increasing acceptance of international students into Japanese society after their graduation or completion of courses (MEXT et al., 2008).

In addition, it was becoming clear that research and development utilizing science technologies, such as measures against global warming and infectious diseases, were acutely needed, particularly by developing countries. To address this concern, the Japan Science and Technology Agency started an initiative, the Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS) in 2008, in collaboration with JICA. The initiative can be regarded as a part of international cooperation in education in a broad sense, as it will be carried out by universities and research institutes (see Chap. 9 for details).

4 Assessing What Characterize the Formulation of Japan’s International Education Cooperation Policy

International cooperation in education, or “international cooperation in the field of education,” is considered to have been established over the period since the 1990s. It was a period when the primary focus of development discourse shifted from economic growth to human development, and correspondingly, the focus of support turned from human resource development to education development.

For a long time, Japan’s ODA emphasized the conventional aspects of economic cooperation, and the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, later reorganized as METI, took a leading role.Footnote 14 During this period, support was concentrated on human resource development, rather than support for the education sector, as it was deemed essential for industrial and economic development. Changes in this approach occurred in the 1990s, when the discourse of international development shifted. This shift coincided with the period when Japan’s ODA expanded significantly.

Although the first ODA Charter of 1992 made reference to the approach of hitozukuri (human resource development), it did not touch on “education” as the target of support. However, facing significant changes in the approach to international development, as it moved from conventional economic development to poverty reduction, human development, and social development, Japan also changed its stance. Japan played a central role in the formulation of the New Development Strategy by the DAC of the OECD. It followed that both the Action Plan in the second TICAD (1998) and the 1999 Medium-Term Policy on ODA largely addressed the expansion and improvement of primary and basic education.

The move to emphasize the field of education, particularly basic education, also took place within JICA. The Ministry of Education also implemented measures to promote the participation of universities that had a pool of expert knowledge in education development. It was based on the recommendations from the Committee for International Cooperation in Education, which was composed of experts. This mode of using the expert committee, through which MEXT formulated and implemented the measures for international cooperation in education, was to be continued.

The policy system related to Japan’s international cooperation has comprised the ODA Charter, Medium-Term Policy, country assistance policy, and sectoral policy. BEGIN, the first policy on international cooperation in education covered basic education, and it was in 2010 when the policy covering the entire education sector was presented. The current international education cooperation policy was formulated in 2015. Each has been announced on specific occasions in order to attract strong public attention, such as the G8 Summit, the UN Millennium Development Goals Review Summit, and the UN Sustainable Development Summit. The latest policy of 2015 was the first to be formulated along the lines of the new international discourses of development (SDGs), the international framework in the field of education (SDG 4), and the Development Cooperation Charter, within the same year of those major events rather than following them.

In formulating the three international education cooperation policies, MOFA, the lead agency for ODA, played a central role. While maintaining the position of emphasizing basic education, the policies mentioned distinctive initiatives in educational cooperation, using expressions such as “School for All” and “Learning for All, All for Learning” in order to take advantage of Japan’s experience and knowledge. In addition, while the policy scope covered the entirety of education, the 2015 policy emphasized education results, employment, and collaboration with other development sectors with due regard to SDG 4. It also described the support to be provided for technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and higher education in depth.

BEGIN was formulated in 2002, 10 years after the former ODA Charter (1992), and 1 year before the 2003 ODA Charter. MOFA commissioned an evaluation of BEGIN to be conducted by the External Advisory Meeting on ODA. The evaluation report stated that BEGIN was prepared according to the basic policies of the 1992 ODA Charter and the 1999 Medium-Term Policy on ODA, which spelled out support for self-help efforts, human resource development, poverty reduction, basic education, and support for women. The report also pointed out that BEGIN was consistent with the 2003 ODA Charter and the 2005 Medium-Term Policy, which emphasized poverty reduction and education equally. On the other hand, the report noted that BEGIN failed to include follow-up and monitoring of its own activities and that the basic philosophy and priority areas of BEGIN were not spelled out in the 2005 Medium-Term Policy, which was also prepared by MOFA. As a result, they were hardly addressed in the country assistance policies and the project plans of aid-implementing agencies (MOFA, 2008).

Likewise, a third-party evaluation of the Education Cooperation Policy 2011–2015 was conducted. The evaluation report recognized that the 2011 Policy was consistent with the overarching ODA policies and international frameworks, such as EFA and the MDGs, and that the position paper for the education sector by JICA, an aid-implementing agency, was also in line with this education cooperation policy. As for the numerical targets of the 2011 Policy over 5 years, the beneficiaries served were 27.86 million people against the target of 25 million people, and the disbursements in the field of education had already surpassed 3.6 billion dollars in 4 years from 2011 to 2014 against the target of 3.5 billion dollars. The aid volume for basic education accounted for a little less than 15% of bilateral aid in the field of education. Thus, the targets indicated in the milestone report of 1994 were eventually achieved.

However, according to the abovementioned third-party evaluation, two-thirds of the survey respondents of Japanese diplomatic establishments abroad—where local ODA Task Forces were placed—did not regard this as Japan’s basic policy on educational cooperation, and the policy was poorly recognized by the governments of aid recipient countries and other donors (MOFA, 2016). The fact that the subsequent education cooperation policy (GoJ, 2015b) had already been prepared before the main messages of this evaluation were presented pointed to the need of further improvements in the policy process.

The Education Cooperation Policy 2011–2015 also encouraged Japan to proactively participate in the policy process of SWAPs and program-based support. In fact, in Bangladesh, Nepal, and Zambia, where Japan’s education aid was mainly based on technical cooperation projects, Japan endeavored to promote aid coordination by utilizing budget support, which was rather exceptional considering Japan’s aid modality for education. Nevertheless, Japan’s efforts toward program-based support by using the most aligned financial mechanism (i.e., budget support) were limited as a whole, and the inclination toward such a direction of aid modality had not yet received much public support at home. This was shown by the much smaller amount of contributions to GPE, which also uses RBF compared to other developed countries.

If the government’s proactive stance on “aid with a face” of Japan (1999 Medium-Term Policy on ODA), designed to increase popular support for ODA, has caused reluctance to participate in policy dialogues and program-based support, it would mean a great loss of important opportunities for successful international cooperation in education. This is especially true when the acquisition of learning outcomes is the central objective of SDG 4 where Japan's stronger contribution is expected.

To achieve this, the practical knowledge that Japan has accumulated through experiences in international cooperation and educational practices at home is highly relevant. Using such knowledge as a metaphorical lever, Japan could play an effective catalytic role in linking education development policy, practice, and outcomes in the broad arena of international cooperation in education that is in favor of RBF. That, in turn, will require Japan to critically re-examine its strengths and the issues embedded in its own educational practices and systems and to develop the capacity to clearly explain them externally. The insights arising from such efforts will likely benefit both international cooperation in education and education at home.

5 Conclusion

Japan’s international education cooperation policy has been formulated and reformulated, under the influences of development discourses, the changing needs of education development in developing countries, Japan’s strengths in education, the domestic situation, and, needless to say, Japan’s approach to ODA as a whole. It has evolved gradually into providing comprehensive coverage while initiating and maintaining Japan’s unique and distinctive approaches. At each stage, it has been believed that this would more effectively meet the expectations of the international community. Thus, the policy has been inspired by these external and domestic factors, as well as recognized successful cases of educational cooperation. By doing so, it has indicated the direction to overcome practical issues that have emerged through experience.

One question that requires further examination is to what extent the implementation on the ground has been effectively guided by education cooperation policy intentions and to what extent the expected results have been produced based on these policies.