Keen to upgrade the educational standards in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today visited a 136-year-old school here as a "student" to understand the academic system of Japan which could be replicated back home.
He also invited teachers from here to teach Japanese language in India and proposed online courses amid his pitch for enhanced cooperation in languages and social values among the Asian countries to make the 21st Century truly that of Asia.
"My intention to come here is to understand how modernisation, moral education and discipline has been blended into Japan's education system. I have come as the oldest student to the 136-year-old school," Modi said at the Taimei Elementary School.
The Prime Minister was given a detailed presentation by Deputy Minister for Education Maekawa Kehai about how Japan's education system, particularly the one run by government, works.
He made some queries, including how syllabus is made, whether tests are the only criteria for promotion, whether punishment is awarded to students and how moral education is imparted to them.
"I feel enlightened now," he said.
Noting that the whole world recognises that the 21st Century would belong to Asia, the Prime Minister said that to make it truly happen, Asia countries should enhance cooperation among themselves in languages and social values.
"It should serve the entire humanity," he said.
In this context, Modi said Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has introduced Japanese language courses in India but the country faces shortage of skilled Japanese teachers. He invited Japanese teachers to teach in India. "Even the retired teachers are welcome," he said.
Modi proposed that online and audio-video courses could be started by Japan and exams could be held here, amid his confidence that it would find many takers among the Indian students.
Such a mechanism could be put in place about Indian languages too, he said.
At the Taimei Elementary School, Modi asked how school syllabus is selected.
He was told that 2-5 private publishers present their works, which is scrutinized by the Education Ministry and selected on merit. "Since the drafts are invited from various publishers, it leads to competition," he was told by the Deputy Minister.
He also wanted to know what is the role of parents in Japan's education system and was told that parent-teacher- meetings are held on regular basis to give feedback to the parents.
On how high moral standards are maintained, the Prime Minister was told that moral education classes are held once every week for an hour. Moral education is also built in the education system, the Japanese Minister said.
Modi also asked whether evaluation is done only on the basis of exams.
He was told that till 9th, there are no exams for promotion to the next class and only assessments are conducted to see how much a student has understood and how much interest a student has.
There is no punishment and it is assessed whether a student finds education interesting or boring, the Japanese minister said.
After the presentation, the Prime Minister said he had got an opportunity to understand Japanese system of education.
He noted that the Taimei school had been destroyed in an earthquake on this day in 1923 and had since been rebuilt.
Understanding the pain, Modi recalled that in Gujarat too, during his Chief Ministership, an earthquake in 2001 had devastated a school in Anjar, killing 400 students carrying Indian tricolor on the January 26, the Republic Day.