Nonformal Education and Civil Society in Japan: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Nonformal Education and Civil Society in Japan

1st Edition

Edited by Kaori H. Okano


202 pages | 5 B/W Illus.

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Nonformal Education and Civil Society in Japan critically examines an aspect of education that has received little attention to date: intentional teaching and learning activities that occur outside formal schooling.

In the last two decades nonformal education has rapidly increased in extent and significance. This is because individual needs for education have become so diverse and rapidly changing that formal education alone is unable to satisfy them. Increasingly diverse demands on education resulted from a combination of transnational migration, heightened human rights awareness, the aging population, and competition in the globalised labour market. Some in the private sector saw this situation as a business opportunity. Others in the civil society volunteered to assist the vulnerable. The rise in nonformal education has also been facilitated by national policy developments since the 1990s.

Drawing on case studies, this book illuminates a diverse range of nonformal education activities; and suggests that the nature of the relationship between nonformal education and mainstream schooling has changed. Not only have the two sectors become more interdependent, but the formal education sector increasingly acknowledges nonformal education’s important and necessary roles. These changes signal a significant departure from the past in the overall functioning of Japanese education. The case studies include: neighbourhood homework clubs for migrant children, community-based literacy classes, after-school care programs, sport clubs, alternative schools for long-term absent students, schools for foreigners, training in intercultural competence at universities and corporations, kôminkan (community halls), and lifelong learning for the seniors. This book will appeal to both scholars of Japanese Studies/Asian Studies, and those of comparative education and sociology/anthropology of education.


'This volume provides an integrated view of how learning in Japan occurs outside of schools, from kindergarten to universities for the elderly. It explores how migrants and indigenous minorities cope with public schooling through non-formal means, and offers a rare look at the role that religious organizations sometimes play in Japanese society.' - Professor Gerald Le Tendre, Pennsylvania State University, USA

'Non-formal education is often a neglected area of scholarly investigation. Yet, it occupies significant space and importance in everyday life in our contemporary society, providing all generations with alternative learning opportunities. This book will be a unique contribution that highlights the interface between formal and non-formal education and provides readers with multilayered understanding of learning in post-industrial Japan.' - Professor Ryuko Kubota, University of British Columbia, Canada

'As a whole, this collection certainly demonstrates the significant role played by various kinds of nonformal education in Japanese society.The individual essays generally provide a useful and up-to-date picture of the topic with which they deal, usually including a broad overview as well as a short case study.' - Susan D. Holloway, University of California, Berkeley, USA

Table of Contents

1. Nonformal education in Japan: Its interface with formal schools, Kaori Okano 2. The homework club and beyond: A civil society group’s quest to build a place for learning and belonging in a time of migration, Tomoko Nakamatsu 3. The importance of nonformal education in the success of Dôwa Education, June A. Gordon 4. Community based after-school care programs in Japan: Potential of non-formal education for children and residents, Eiji Tsuda 5. Homo Athleticus: The Educational Roles of Extracurricular Clubs in Japanese Schools, Thomas Blackwood 6. Alternative Schools: An Educational Safety-net for Long-term Absent Students, Hideki Ito 7. The changing relationship between ‘schools for foreigners’ and formal schools, Kaori Okano 8. Education and training for the intercultural competence of Japanese university graduates: Policy, practice and markets in informal education, Jeremy Breaden 9. Kōminkan: Its Roles in Education and Community-Building, Chizu Sato 10. Lifelong learning universities in the ageing society: Empowering the elderly, Koji Maeda

About the Editor

Kaori H. Okano is Professor in Asian Studies/Japanese, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia.

About the Series

Routledge Critical Studies in Asian Education

In Asia, schooling, teaching and learning are undergoing major changes as a consequence of wider economic, social, cultural and political movements. The success of some Asian countries in international education benchmarks has redirected attention to the region. This is counterbalanced by other countries that are struggling to educate their citizens in the midst of political instability, ideological and religious tensions, poverty and natural disasters. In spite of such broad differences across countries in Asia, pioneering and innovative research is being conducted that is of increasing interest to researchers, practitioners, policymakers, and governments worldwide.

The Routledge Critical Studies in Asian Education book series will examine key theoretical and empirical research on the changing institutional and cultural contexts of Asian education. The series aims to establish a strong platform for the critical discussion of educational practices and pedagogies in Asia, and is open to Asian and international researchers with a focus on the region. Interdisciplinary research is welcomed, including education, social sciences, psychology, organisational studies, economics, history, political science, cultural studies, and language and literacy.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Educational Policy & Reform / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General