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Japan’s International Cooperation in the Field of School Construction: Evolution Amid Changing Internal and External Policy Landscape

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Japan’s International Cooperation in Education

Part of the book series: Education in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues, Concerns and Prospects ((EDAP,volume 63))

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This chapter investigates the features and historical trends of Japanese aid for school construction at the primary and secondary levels, paying particular attention to the changing external and internal policy landscape. Up until the 1980s, support for basic education was an area that had been generally excluded from Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) due to concerns over potential violation of the sovereignty of recipient countries. However, school construction projects were regarded “exception” as relatively “value-neutral” and, therefore, an “acceptable” aid item for projects in support of basic education. Such projects started appearing in Japanese ODA in the late 1980s. School construction then quickly became one of the key components of Japanese aid in basic education by the 1990s as an important way for Japan to contribute to achieving universal primary education (UPE), put forward by Education for All (EFA) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This chapter demonstrates that Japanese ODA has continuously revised its aid modalities and approaches to school construction over time since the 1990s. The shifts in approach have been made in response to the complex changes in internal and external aid-to education policy environments. More specifically, they have evolved in responding to the need to adhere to international commitments to improve aid effectiveness and local ownership, cater for the diverse needs of recipient countries, and reduce expenditures and increase aid effectiveness in light of Japan’s declining ODA budget.

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  1. 1.

    According to Sawamura (1999, p. 79), in the early 1990s, Japan offered an annual aid of 4–5 billion yen around the world. The amount grew sharply to 9.1 billion yen in fiscal 1996, before reaching 15.3 billion yen in fiscal 1997. From 1995, few construction programs were carried out for higher education or vocational training facilities. Japan devoted most of its grant aid for education to the construction of primary school buildings.

  2. 2.

    However, in some projects carried out with General Grant Aid, in countries such as Nepal, materials and equipment were provided for communities to construct schools with their participation.

  3. 3.

    Priorities and Strategies for Education: A World Bank Review, released by the World Bank in 1995, discussed the excessive investment in school facilities as an example of “misallocation” of resources (Sawamura, 1999).

  4. 4.

    In the ODA Inspection and Improvement 2006 report, MOFA stated that they had set a cost reduction target for school construction projects with Grant Aid for Community Empowerment at 30% on average over 5 years from FY 2006. The scheme of Grant Aid for Community Empowerment was consolidated with other grant aid sub-schemes in March 2015. The name was used for projects whose implementation had been decided before that.

  5. 5.

    In 2015, PRS Grant Aid was renamed Grants Through Budget Support.


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Okitsu, T. (2022). Japan’s International Cooperation in the Field of School Construction: Evolution Amid Changing Internal and External Policy Landscape. In: Kayashima, N., Kuroda, K., Kitamura, Y. (eds) Japan’s International Cooperation in Education. Education in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues, Concerns and Prospects, vol 63. Springer, Singapore.

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