On Jury 21th “English Nook” ~Family-friendly English time~ was held in OTEPIA Kochi library. There are baby class and kids’ class. In the baby class, they can experience to read aloud English picture books, hand play with English. In the kid class, they can use English by using their body like a game or a dance. This event is an excellent opportunity for children to come in touch with English and to know the interest to communicate in English. And also, this event is for their parents to learn how to educate English to children at home. They can talk and learn English with their children through this event.
“I want to tell a lot of children about how interesting English and various cultures.” “I also want lots of people to know it’s possible to communicate with foreign people even if they are not good at speaking English.” Mrs. Ichino said to me, smiling. Kazumi Ichino is representative of Global Education Lab Kochi which operates this event. She established a child-care club named “English club for mothers to interact with their children” in 2011. She also started an English conversation class in 2016. Finally, she established the Global education lab Kochi in 2018.
The chance that she began to establish these organizations is her son. When her son was five years old, he said that he wanted to learn English. She let him take an English lesson, but she couldn’t take him to and from the classes because she worked as a sports instructor. As a way around this problem, she established an English club for mothers to interact with their children.
Global Education Lab Kochi is NPO (Non-Profit Organization) which aims to promote global education. It holds events to attract other parents about global education in Kochi. For example, they organize English events for schools or educational institutions.
In these events, she wants children to know the fun of awareness. For example, people in the world have different cultures and values. They can notice the difference between Japan and other countries and merit and demerit of Japan by comparing to other countries.
She noticed the interesting to interact with foreign people from various countries through she manages this club. When she established a child-care club in 2011, she couldn’t speak English at all, and the native English couldn’t speak Japanese at all. They couldn’t communicate with each other, but they made an effort to understand each other, and then they could communicate gradually.
She also wanted other parents and their children to know about the present situation of global education in Kochi prefecture. According to Tokyo university,62.7% of parents whose children are students in Tokyo university earn more than 9 million 500 thousand yen a year. It means academic ability is involved in a parent’s income. Wealthy families have enough money to let children study. They also have high education consciousness, and they know the importance of teaching English.
In the case of Kochi prefecture, on average, an annual income is 3 million 998 thousand yen. This number is the 38th out of 47 prefectures. According to the Kochi prefectural government, Kochi prefecture is 43rd in a national achievement test for junior high school. In short, Kochi prefecture is both poorer and has lower academic ability than other prefectures. Ichino said that most families who take English conversation class or participate in events held by this organization are relatively wealthy families. This situation might be reasonable in the case of Tokyo University but is not suitable for Kochi.
“I want to change this situation in Kochi,” she said. Her dream is to operate a certified center for early childhood education and care(CECE), which specializes in global education. She thinks it’s not enough to only take an English conversation class and it’s important to put themselves in an environment with a lot of English. CECE also plays a role in both nursery and kindergarten. So everyone can receive a global education regardless of their money issue.
“I want to contribute to improving the fundamental academic ability in Kochi prefecture,” she said. “Being able to speak English is not the goal; it’s the start.”