The eighth Japan National Conference for the UNESCO Associated Schools Network (ASPnet), organized by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) and the Japanese National Commission for UNESCO, was held on 3 December 2016 at Kanazawa University. The Conference drew approximately 650 participants from around the country, including teachers as well as corporate, government and non-profit organization representatives. It’s main theme was Education for Sustainable Development (ESD).
The opening ceremony was attended by MEXT Minister Hirokazu Matsuno. In his speech he expressed high hopes that the conference would become a forum for discussion and sharing of domestic and overseas efforts, based on the wide range of activities UNESCO Associated Schools have undertaken until now. The conference, he said, would provide a significant opportunity to open up a new era. Yuichiro Anzai, chairperson of the Japanese National Commission for UNESCO, voiced his appreciation for the day-to-day effort put in by everyone involved with UNESCO Associated Schools. He was also confident the national conference would act as a catalyst for new ideas to help create a sustainable future.
The conference engaged in lively debate as participants exchanged ideas and information on various ESD challenges and on the activities of UNESCO Associated Schools. Events included panel discussions; a report of UNESCO Associated School activities; debates focused on specific topics; an introduction of how cooperating corporations are working to make social contributions; and ESD-related exhibitions by corporations and organizations.
UNESCO Associated School teachers from China and the Republic of Korea also attended. During the conference, a special programme was set up to allow an exchange of ideas and to present good practices among the UNESCO Associated Schools in each country: The teachers from UNESCO Associated Schools in China and the Republic of Korea visited UNESCO elementary and middle schools in Kanazawa the day before the conference, observed classes and exchanged information with Japanese teachers and principals. They also interacted informally with students, sharing their school lunches and experiencing traditional games.