Networking Meeting of Representatives Operating Non-Formal Education Classes for Migrant Children


Various migrant communities are taking initiatives to introduce national language and culture to the younger generations in Japan due to limited opportunities for the children to learn their national language and culture. Since the project’s inception, we have contacted and engaged with native language supplementary class organizers from different countries, namely Bangladesh, Burma/Myanmar, Nepal, the Philippines, Russia, Thai, Vietnam, etc.

However, we have found little interaction among them though they have been facing similar problems, such as venues and sustainability of the classes. Native language class organizers expected interactions with others to share experiences and to form a network to advocate common issues in collaboration with other civil society stakeholders in Japan.

The project organized a networking meeting among the representatives operating language classes in Japan on April 8, 2023. The language class organizers from Thailand, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and Nepal attended the meeting.

Ms. Aoy Arai presented about Chang Thai, a group she launched in 2002 in Sagamihara, Tokyo, to organize native language classes. The group has been providing opportunities for children with Thai roots to be familiar with Thai culture in Japan. Chang Thai has worked with various organizations to manage textbooks and syllabi for the language class. The Thai Embassy has recently complimented its effort by supplying Thai language textbooks used at elementary and junior high schools in Thailand. The group has also received vital support from local stakeholders regarding the free use of classroom facilities at Sagamihara International Lounge and Sagamihara Public Support Center. In addition, Chang Thai offers Thai Language classes to Japanese people interested in Thailand. The fee paid by the adult Japanese learners covers the cost of language classes for children. As a result, the group has been providing free Thai Language classes for children with Thai roots.

Mr. Rajib Hossain, the founder of New Age Kids Online School, presented about unique online supplementary classes in Bangla, Arabic and English for migrant children from Bangladesh living in Japan and other countries. In its first year of operation, the school has provided language support to more than 120 children in various parts of Japan. The school employs full-time teachers based in Bangladesh to run the classes. The course cost has been covered through a nominal fee paid by the parents and donations by members of Bangladesh communities.

Some communities, such as Nepalese communities in Japan, run their own schools based on the Nepalese curriculum. Mr. Arjun Sadaula, a Nepalese Language teacher at Everest International School, Japan (EISJ), presented about Nepali Language teaching-learning activities at EISJ and how this school has been helping Nepalese families and children navigate the schooling challenges when children move from one country to another. He also talked about personal and institutional efforts to prepare Nepalese textbooks and resources for children attending Japanese public schools throughout Japan.

The representative of Afghanistan and Sri Lanka talked about their involvement in teaching the Japanese language to support the education of immigrant children attending Japanese public schools and translation works to support the families. They highlighted the preoccupation and struggle of migrant parents to prepare their children best to adapt and succeed in Japanese school systems.

The session was useful for participants to learn about different approaches to language classes, achievements, and challenges that each group has experienced. Some language groups have put effort into garnering support from various stakeholders to provide affordable language class opportunities for their children. In contrast, others rely on limited resources to conduct activities targeting as many children as possible. From our interaction with Nepal, Vietnam, Myanmar, and Russian language communities, we have observed their struggle to sustain their language activities despite challenges related to facilities, management, and financial issues. The meeting allowed us to reach out to immigrant children of different communities through survey research on their language learning experiences. We wrapped up the meeting with the plan to organize further interactions, experience sharing, and networking for the collective lobby vis-à-vis Japanese stakeholders.