USJC Hosts Dialogue on Education Inequality

On June 9, USJC conducted a webinar with a panel of experts in academia to discuss the inequality in education as the result of the coronavirus pandemic, titled “Coronavirus and Education Inequality in the U.S. and Japan.”

Speakers included Daniel Porterfield (President and CEO, The Aspen Institute; President Emeritus Franklin & Marshall College); and Ryohei Nakagawa (Associate Professor and Deputy Chair, Department of Global Studies, Kyoto University of Foreign Studies). The dialogue was moderated by USJC Board Member, William Tsutsui (President Emeritus, Hendrix College & JALD ’11).

The webinar addressed the key disparities that have been further emphasized in Japan and the United States as a result of the current pandemic. Panelists suggested what actions local governments and institutions need to take in the long-term to combat these inequalities in education and assessed the potential of online learning increasing equity in education.

Dr. Porterfield shared that the current situation has revealed and worsened the educational inequality for students from low-income families, those with special needs and nontraditional students. He contended that in order to provide access to those who suffer from inequality, it is crucial to do everything possible to safely open schools (e.g. reconstruct classrooms for social-distancing, have students come to school in shifts, etc.) and provide relief funds to schools for faculty employment. Dr. Nakagawa commented that in Japan, the social minorities are among the most adversely affected groups in the higher education system.

In the topic of online learning, panelists agreed that it is a great educational resource to supplement in-person learning and democratize the access of information, but would place low-income students at a disadvantage due to the limited access to stable broadband connection.

Thank you to Mya Fisher, Director of Education and TOMODACHI Programs, for leading this webinar.

Click here to watch the webinar.