May 27

Former AJET Chair Announced as Senior Staff of Osaka Prefectural BoE’s New English Education Reform Team


Former AJET Chair Matt Cook (Osaka-fu, 2007-12) receives his appointment to the Education Reform Team for Osaka Prefecture’s Board of Education.

Former AJET Chair Matthew Cook (Osaka-fu, 2007-12) has been announced as “Shusa” (“Senior Staff”) at the Osaka Prefectural Board of Education.  His role will be working with all levels of English Educational Affairs and working as a member of the new English Education Reform Team.

Matt may be the first ever non-Japanese person to hold a senior level full-time position at a Board of Education in Japan*.  (If anyone is aware of other examples, please post in the comment section.)  Among other things, it is also encouraging to see a JET alum with an opportunity to play a substantive role in English education reform in Japan.

Matt has spent the past ten months working for the Osaka Prefectural Board of Education as a the Program Coordinator for their Native English Teacher (NET) Program (somewhat akin to being a JET Program Coordinator at CLAIR) following his completion of five years as a JET ALT in Osaka-fu and serving one year as AJET’s national council Chair.

Omedetou, Matt-san!  Ganbatte kudasai and yoroshiku onegaishimasu!

Here’s a link to the article about the announcement in the Yomiuri Shimbun (Japanese only):  (If anyone readers could provide a short summary in the comment section, by the way, that would be greatly appreciated.)

*Note:  I learned there have been other former JETs and other non-Japanese who worked as advisors and in other roles for the Osaka Prefectural Board of Education.  However, my understanding is that none of them worked at the policy-making level.  Here’s a 2003 article from The Guardian that quotes one in particular who seemed to have some good insights into reform and Japanese language education, Huw Olphant:  Huw currently works as Head of Society and English Education for the British Council in Japan and was apparently mentioned in Importing Diversity, a book about the JET Programme published in 2000.


Update 06.01.13     


Thanks to current JET Kevin McCoy for summarizing some of the above Daily Yomiuri article:


Two the seven team members, Takeda Kiyoshi (46), a former English teacher at Shiga Prefectural High School, who received his Master’s degree at Harvard University Graduate School, and Matthew Cook (34), an American who worked for approximately 6 years as an ALT for the prefecture, were hired as “shokuin” (staff) with a limited period of appointment. The other 5 members are all staff at the prefecture’s Board of Education with exceptional English skills who will also serve their usual “tanto” (staff) positions.

Kevin also found the following report which is a little more specific with regard to titles:


The team is made up of 7 members. In addition to staff who have been involved in English education until now, Kiyoshi Takeda (46) […] and American national […] Matthew Cook (34) were each hired as “sanji” and “shusa”, respectively. Takeda’s appointment is until the end of March 2016, and Cook’s appointment will last until the end of March 2015.

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