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Saturday, July 5, 2008

State, Chiba to fund international school


Staff writer

The nation's first international school subsidized by the central government will open next April in Makuhari, Chiba Prefecture, Chiba Gov. Akiko Domoto said Friday.

News photo
Trendsetters: Chiba Gov. Akiko Domoto and Paul Rogers, prospective principal of Makuhari International School, meet the press Friday at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo. YOSHIAKI MIURA PHOTO

By supporting the school, the prefectural government hopes to attract top businesspeople and academics from around the world, she said.

Makuhari International School, to be managed as a private entity, plans to accommodate around 400 children for three-year kindergarten and six-year elementary school programs and charge lower tuition fees than similar schools, officials said.

"Today we must compete for more direct investment with every other region in Japan," Domoto said at a luncheon at The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo.

One of the key elements is international schools, Domoto said. "Without them, we can't support an international workforce," she stressed.

With those aims in mind, the prefecture is leasing the land for the school at a low price. And since the central government approved the school as meeting the state's official curriculum and other criteria, it will also subsidize it.

That subsidy is allowing the school to keep tuition fees at an affordable level: ¥1.2 million for kindergarten and ¥1.5 million for elementary grades one through six. The fees are roughly half of what other international schools charge, the officials said.

All subjects except Japanese will be taught in English in 20- to 24-student classes. The student body is expected to be half Japanese and half from overseas, the officials said. "I want to make Makuhari the best international school in Japan," Prospective Principal Paul Rogers said at the luncheon.

Gov. Domoto hopes Makuhari will be a precedent for other regions to follow and boost the country's internationalization.

"If this kind of school opens in Tokyo or Osaka, everyone . . . returnees and foreign children will be much happier and able to study well," she told The Japan Times after the luncheon.

Formal enrollment will begin this autumn. For more information, call the school preparatory foundation at (043) 296-0277, or visit the Web site at www.mis.or.jp


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The Japan Times

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