Friday, 12 June 2009

Marine Education and a path of hope

Perhaps because I spent my childhood surrounded by mountains, I developed a longing for the ocean from early in life. This could also be the influence of my uncle, who was a ship’s captain and occasionally brought my family cheese and bananas, which were still rare in those lean days right after the war. Surely, I was also moved by adventure stories like Robinson Crusoe. But I think the ocean I saw in my mind’s eye was something more than that: it felt like a path of hope projecting into the future.

To return to more recent days, on June 2nd, we visited Mr Kanamori, Director-General, Elementary and Secondary Education Bureau, at the Ministry of Education,Science and Culture to deliver a policy proposal on the promotion of Marine Education in primary education. We provided him with the ‘21st Century Grand-Design for Marine Education in Primary Education’, the fruit of OPRF’s working group on Japanese Marine Education. .

This policy proposal is part of our activities promoting marine education, which we have been carrying out in fulfillment of Article 28 of the Japanese Basic Act on Ocean Policy. In fact, the first study group on marine education got under way in 2007, and set out to realize what Article 28 stipulates regarding marine education. In 2008, we provided the same Ministry with our initial policy proposal on the promotion of Marine Education. The Grand-Design that we presented this week was a sequel to this previous effort.

The main part of the Grand-Design is a curriculum on Marine Education (which I hope the readers of this blog will take interest in). It is created in line with the current National Guideline for Primary Education. The content of the Grand-Design also provides a road map for developing external associations leading to collaborative educational programs. Hence, the Grand-design was created to be useful for both schools and outside organizations who are interested in supporting primary marine education.

Director-General, Mr Kanamori listened to our policy proposal in a positive manner and gave us promising comments on the future promotion of marine education in primary schools, which was very encouraging.

It has been more than 50 years since I dreamt of the ocean in my boyhood days. Japan now is a prosperous place and children need no longer nurture their dreams with only their imaginations and knowledge they can gain from limited experiences. For these children, I believe we should provide first-hand opportunities to learn about the blessings the ocean provides. I sincerely hope that our study on Marine Education will help develop inspiring experiences in primary education and enhance future generations’ appreciation of the sea.

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