2016 Special Issue

The seven student papers here under the guidance and direction of Dr. Rosemary Papa, visiting distinguished professor of educational leadership and societal change, tackle a wide-range of such issues in Japan, Nepal, India, Canada, Germany, Brazil, and the United States, reflecting concerns in each student’s home country. While setting out the history and background of the problems they address, they each conclude with a set of recommendations that well appeal not only to educational policy makers but to anyone seeking a way forward against problems of social and economic inequity, alienation and displacement, and gender equality that are of everyone’s concern.

From the Editor

Prologue: Compelling Global Educational Issues

By: Rosemary Papa (Northern Arizona University)



By: John Heffron (Soka University of America)

Is Social Justice Found in Japanese Education? The Yutori Curriculum and After

Mitsue Hosokawa (Soka University of America)

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) has implemented various curriculums, so-called the Course of Study, over the past few decades. The Yutori curriculum, which was introduced in the 1990’s, aimed to improve flexible thinking by reducing the amount of study materials. After finding lowered scores on the PISA 2003 and 2006 (Nakayasu, 2016), the Yutori curriculum was criticized as a failure. Although the MEXT has implemented a new Course of Study to improve the learning ability of the next generation, the Yutori graduates are still left behind in the Japanese society and they are labeled as ‘failures’. Japan needs to shift its values and philosophy at the fundamental level rather than being ignorant to the fact of lacking social justice. Recommendations for the Japanese educational system are noted

Social Studies in Quebec: How to Break the Chains of Oppression of Visible Minorities and of the Quebec Society

By: Viviane Vallerand (Soka University of America)

Despite having multiculturalism as a core value, the province of Quebec has significant issues affecting the inclusion of visible minorities, such as positive discrimination, reasonable accommodation, and the fact of cultural divide. The presence of these minority groups brings out the tension between respecting differences and protecting ‘unity’ in Quebec society. The social studies curriculum in Quebec schools offers a traditional multicultural education one effect of which is to reinforce a vague and neutral notion of citizenship. This helps to foster homogenization and oppresses visible minorities by pre-supposing a dominant culture. The paper makes recommendations for a social studies curriculum less content driven and more centered on participatory and critical learning processes to reduce social injustices, to reinforce a more culturally tolerant society and to help visible minorities to emancipate themselves from their oppressive status.

Zero-Tolerance Polices and a Call for More Humane Disciplinary Actions

Arlen M. Vidal-Castro (Soka University of America)

Many students in our school system are being forced out of the classroom due to harsh discipline policies focused on rules rather than the child and the contextualized infraction. These policies punish them by taking away the very thing that could possibly change their lives, their education. The way we deal with behavior issues in the classroom has greatly changed over time and disciplinary actions have become rigid, devaluing the human process of growth and learning. Today, with the rise of violent acts spreading across the United States, the administration feels the need to implement harsh and rigid consequences that decontextualize the human being, rather than seeing the pupil as a whole. Recommendations for a more humane disciplinary code are noted.

The Integration of Refugees into the German Education System: A Stance for Cultural Pluralism and Multicultural Education

Marco Timm (Soka University of America)

This article examines the integration of refugees into the Germany’s educational system, focusing on K-12 schooling and Syrian refugees. It criticizes the current approach to integration because the system fails to address the specific needs of refugees and neglects the potential contribution they have to offer in terms of their cultural diversity. The article then advocates in favor of an integration based on cultural pluralism instead of assimilation and explores the benefits of multicultural education. To conclude, it provides recommendations (1) to introduce multi-professional teams to guide the emotional development of refugee students, (2) to involve Syrian educators in schools to provide language and content instruction in Arabic, and (3) to provide educators with educational practices based on multiculturalism.

The Struggles of Financial Aid for Higher Education in Brazil

Cintia Kussuda (Soka University of America)

This paper examines the higher education system in Brazil and one of the financial aid policies that the government has established. It seeks to find whether the Fundo de Financiamento ao Estudante do Ensino Superior (FIES), Financing of Higher Education Student, a financial aid program established by the Brazilian government in 1999, addresses the issue of equal access to higher education. The financial aid system was created to assist undergraduate students of low socio-economic background to attend private institutions (Costa, 2013). Although the financial assistance has brought undeniable results, the FIES has shown its enrolment challenges. On the one hand, the program has to some extent accomplished its role of assisting low-income students to have better access to higher education institutions. On the other hand, it has contributed to the growth of low-quality institutions. Moreover, due to the economic crisis in 2015, the FIES had to make major changes in its regulations. In order to analyze these issues, it is important to understand the socio-economic factors that prevent low-income students from enrolling in public universities, the systems of economic exclusion existing in public higher education entrance exams, and the efficacies of the measures that the Brazilian government has taken to mitigate the inequities in higher education enrollment. Research on this topic will enable us to analyze this contemporary issue in Brazilian education and recommend possible educational policies to solve the matter.

How Menstruation is shaping Girls’ Education in Rural Nepal

Samrat Basyal (Soka University of America)

With voices for women’s education coming from around the globe, it is a real setback when girls are unable to attend schools during their menstruation or periods, a process they encounter every month. The absence of Nepalese rural female students from schools during their periods does not only have the biological aspect to it but incorporates a wide range of social, cultural, familial, and even the economic factors that impact Nepal hindering its economic growth. This paper examines all those factors relating to girls’ menstruation and its impact on their schooling in developing countries. Recommendations for possible ways to carve out solutions for developing countries are noted for this global issue.

Schools as Sites of Socio-Economic Inclusion: Improving the Fabric of Indian Society

Bhavana Rani (Soka University of America)

This article examines the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE, 2009) in India, including its origin, the system of schools to which it gave rise, and its importance against the backdrop of the larger Indian society. This article further assesses the progress made in the implementation of the RTE, the roadblocks, and the role of different stakeholders in the system to make RTE a working reality. The benefits of integration in the overall functioning of the education system and its different elements such as the students, teachers, the school culture and the larger community are explored in the article. In conclusion, the article gives policy recommendations to close the skills gap and thereby create an ecosystem that will support integration at every level.



Fenwick W. English (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)