A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

teaching the commoners: adventures in mis-translation

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on June 25, 2007

Well, I hope this is a mis-translation. I came across this intriguing little article today:

Japanese NGO to open ‘terakoya’ school for Iraqi kids in Syria 
TOKYO, June 25 KYODO

The Japanese nongovernmental organization Peace On is planning to open a small private school for children of Iraqi refugees in Syria, modeled after the ”terakoya” temple schools in Japan’s Edo period that taught reading and writing to children of commoners. The Tokyo-based group has found that support for refugees in the area of education is poor compared with food, housing and medical care, its leader Yasuyuki Aizawa said.

On the one hand, I appreciate Peace On’s commitment to drawing upon Japan’s rich historical traditions. On the other hand, the Edo period (1603-1867) was a long time ago. Surely Syria’s Iraqis – commoners or no – would like their children to be educated in a manner that will allow them to navigate the difficult world that they may face.

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