Nov 13

Gunma-ken JET alum and Florida JETAA Newsletter Editor Bahia Simons-Lane has a good post on her blog–Bahia Portfolio:  Posting about Japan, language and education–on the debate concerning benefits derived from the JET Programme.

A little more about Bahia and her background:

Bahia was an Assistant Language Teacher at a girls’ high school in Gunma Prefecture for 2 years, then she worked for the Gunma Prefecture Board of Education as the Assistant Language Teacher’s Advisor. She is currently pursuing a Master’s in International and Intercultural Education.

2 comments so far...

  • an alt Said on November 24th, 2010 at 7:28 pm:

    What blows my mind about this entire debate is the unspoken assumption that if JET is cut, the entire English-teaching system in Japan will collapse. I have the good fortune to work for a private company that provides ALTs of a higher professional caliber and an equally high and certainly more consistent personal caliber than the JET program. Do people really assume that no private companies will fill the gap? That it’s some magical part of being a *JET*, rather than being a good person, that allows them to make personal connections with their students?

    JET is an admirable program, but it’s not indispensable in the teaching sector or the human-connections sector. Private companies can fill the need just as well.

  • jetwit Said on November 28th, 2010 at 6:27 pm:

    The thing the comment above misses is that JET is not just about the English teaching. It’s about the “return on investment” to Japan from attracting top talent from other English speaking countries and instilling in them a lifelong connection to Japan. Thousands of people who might not otherwise have a connection to Japan, do have one because of JET. Many JETs go on to distinguished careers in business, government and other fields and, as they hit their 30s, 40s and 50s, are now becoming more influential. If you read other posts on the JetWit site, you’ll start to get a sense of all of the ways it benefits Japan.

    This point does not by itself offer a solution to the challenges facing JET and facing Japan in terms of its English teaching and grassroots diplomacy goals, particularly with regard to the somewhat differing goals and interests of Japan’s local governments versus Japan’s central government.

    But it is a very significant benefit that needs to be factored into any discussion of the role and importance of the JET Program and JET Alumni Association.

    By contrast, while private companies may be capable of providing English teaching, the sense of connection and the ability to capture the benefits of that connection for the longterm benefit of Japan is not necessarily present.

    Steven Horowitz (Aichi-ken, 1992-94)

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