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FOCUS September 2017 Volume 89

Reforming Society: Education for Children with Foreign Roots

Halim Kim

The symposium entitled “The Current Situation and Problems of Children with Foreign Roots,” held on 10 June 2017 in Toyonaka city, reviewed the situation of these children from the perspective of rights, poverty, education, culture, nationality, and coexistence. HURIGHTS OSAKA was a member of the organizing committee of the event.

Discussion Results
In the first session, “Voices from the children and the family,” there were four speakers who shared their experiences, followed by comments from four scholars and the editors of the book entitled White Paper about the Children with Foreign Roots: Viewpoints from Rights, Poverty, Education, Culture, Nationality, and Coexistence (2017). One speaker, Masaki Laborte, a young Japanese- Filipino, stated that “everyone lives a life with worries…” but “a difficult life is not a personal matter. We should not use the term human rights as words on a page, but as a means to change society where everyone can value him/herself.” Students from the Osaka Korean High School said, “One for all, all for one. We were taught at ‘Woori’ (our) school how important it is to ensure our rights to learn and know about our culture and our ethnicity.” The last speaker shared her experience of the last twenty years as a migrant in Japan who suffered the difficulties of being a parent, and who worried about how to support her children in the future. The commentators provided explanations on the political, historical, and social aspects of these experiences. 

The second session consisted mainly of group discussions focused on the following questions: what are the main limitations and critical points in helping children?; what are the ideal approaches and success stories in tutoring programs?; and what are the possible solutions to the problems? Meanwhile, the children and youth engaged in cultural exchange activities such as cooking and playing games in another room.

During the plenary session, the groups reported on the experiences and problems faced in helping the children, and the personal and organizational (including financial) constraints that have arisen in recent years due to the political conditions that have made networking between Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs) and the schools more difficult. The discussion pointed out the critical needs of the children with foreign roots. Many groups honestly reported about a sense of isolation among the supporters, the lack of capacity among supporters and school teachers in addressing the problems, and the linguistic problems when communicating with migrant parents.

After the three-hour symposium ended, a social gathering allowed the participants to continue discussions, share their frustrations, and hear more from some of the editors of the book. Members of NPOs and teachers' unions, most of whom have a long history of helping and teaching the children in their career, were inspired by the speeches and seemed to have regained a positive energy back by remembering their initial motivations.

Overall, the symposium was successful in that it allowed the participants to network with others who struggle to solve the problems that surround the children. The participating educators realized the significance these kinds of activities have in encouraging everyone to reaffirm their convictions in tackling problems like child poverty, bullying, isolation, and unemployment affecting these children. The main organizer of the symposium, a representative of Toyonaka International Center, emphasized the importance of supporters continuing their activities and hoped that there would be another symposium.

Halim Kim is a staff at HURIGHTS OSAKA.

For further information, please contact HURIGHTS OSAKA.