2018 Volume 85 Issue 4 Pages 420-432
The aim of this paper is to re-examine the history of ‘Dowa education’ (Dowa kyoiku), which has been developed mainly in western Japan over the past fifty years or more, and to consider its real values in order to improve the present situation of the contemporary Japanese society, sometimes called a ‘parentocracy’. The buraku liberation movement behind Dowa education has been combatting the persistent discrimination against Buraku people in Japan, and achieving a lot for their younger generation.
Dowa education has been refined theoretically under the name of ‘liberation education’ (kaiho kyoiku) in the 1970s and 80s. In this paper, the author intends to extract four essential ingredients of liberation education, which can be seen as anti-theses to ordinary school culture in modern society. These are 1) cross-curricular study of human rights (especially on buraku issues), 2) the method of building unity in student groups, 3) the concept of gakuryoku (scholastic ability) for liberation, and 4) the idea of linking education to the social movements of the greater society.
From the 1990s onwards, a new word, human rights education, has often been used for Dowa education, after the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education launched a new era for school education. The spirit of Dowa education, the discrimination against buraku people and the constant struggle to surpass it, has given way to the new concept of human rights education, taking actions to respect people as irreplaceable individuals.
Thus Dowa education, which has been renewed constantly with the world’s trends, can be called a very important educational movement in the era of parentocracy.