In The World: supporting schooling in deprived areas of Japan
Masatomo Hosoi works for Barclays in Tokyo and volunteers for Teach For Japan – a charity dedicated to training teachers in some of the most deprived areas in the country. He shares his thoughts on the lack of opportunities facing many young people in Japan, his search for positive role models – and why he is proud to work for a company that “wants to make a difference”.
I first started working with Teach For Japan in 2015, when myself and my colleagues in the Barclays Legal team in Tokyo met with the charity to help them develop their professional framework. Through regular meetings, we helped build a system that would allow them to run effectively – and we also provided general ad hoc legal advice.
Since then the relationship has continued to grow, and we now have approximately 100 Barclays colleagues giving up their free time to volunteer to work with Teach For Japan, which is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to training talented young teachers and sending them into disadvantaged schools. We still provide professional assistance, but we also take a more hands-on approach.
Personally, I spend a lot of my time in schools providing support for the teachers on the ground. They’re doing an amazing job in what can be challenging circumstances, so it’s important to visit them on site and listen to any concerns that they may be having.
I also work directly with the children, which I really enjoy. I’ve spent time as a classroom assistant – helping the students with their work – and I run workshops where we try and inspire them by discussing the value of education and hard work.
Overcoming a lack of opportunity
Back in the 1950s, the coal mines in the Chikuho area of Japan all closed, leaving 10,000 people relying on the government to provide support.
It may have been sixty years ago, but it is something that still significantly impacts the area today. A lot of children in some areas of the Chikuho region have no concept of the value of education and hard work – hardly surprising considering they have grown up seeing their parents and grandparents unable to get jobs.
For these kids, the system is completely broken. They ask why they should apply themselves in school when there is such an overwhelming lack of opportunity in their community.
Unfortunately, it’s a vicious circle and one that is hard to get out of. The children don’t apply themselves due to the lack of jobs, and then big companies – who could generate jobs – don’t invest in the area as academic performance is so low across the board.
The issue is compounded by the fact that there is also a serious lack of teachers in such deprived areas, and without them it’s almost impossible to provide the children with the education that they both need and deserve. That worries me. I suppose it’s that worry that led me to working with Teach For Japan.
We are building a future where every child in Japan will receive a first class education regardless of their socio-economic background
Although I mainly work with schools and children in the deprived areas, the organisation sends teachers all over the country to the areas where they are needed most. Through the charity’s hard work, we are building a future where every child in Japan will receive a first class education, regardless of their socio-economic background.
Building a better future
We’re always looking for more role models to come in and help us take the project to the next level, so I regularly organise sessions for university students to encourage them to get involved with the amazing work that Teach For Japan is doing. I hope that by spreading the message as far and wide as I can, we’ll be able to recruit more and more staff and continue to make a big difference in the schools that need it the most.
I’ve also reached out to many of my colleagues about the project, and the response has been inspiring. So many people at Barclays have wanted to get involved, and I feel very proud to work for an organisation that really wants to make a difference.
It’s hard work, but I truly believe that through Teach For Japan we can change the future of our country by providing positive role models and teachers for the younger generation.