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Education links with Japan strengthened online

In a uniquely 2020 move, international education ties between New Zealand and Japan have been strengthened via an online ceremony held to mark the mutual commitment to post-COVID collaboration.

Education New Zealand (ENZ) conducted a ceremony-via-screen with the Japanese Hokkaido Board of Education last week to celebrate an agreement to promote collaborative opportunities in education through shared interests, including indigenous culture, primary industries and rugby.

Continuing to build international government-to-government relationships with agreements such as this is a current focus of ENZ as part of the Government’s Recovery Plan for International Education, which was released in July and backed by $51.6m COVID response spend.

This Japanese agreement will facilitate student exchanges between high schools in New Zealand and Japan’s second largest island of Hokkaido, as well as ensure an exchange of information on the human resources required to improve educational environments and teaching methodologies.

ENZ chief executive Grant McPherson said he was delighted to take part in the ceremony.

I am especially appreciative of how committed New Zealand and Japan both remain to building our education relationship given the exceptionally challenging year that we have had.

McPherson said that as everyone adapts to a new environment amid the global pandemic, it was important to think differently about the future being created.

“It’s in this new context that we look forward to working together on our education cooperation arrangement. It is a significant milestone for Education New Zealand and one that will strengthen the partnership agreement between our governments.”

The joint signing by McPherson and superintendent of the Hokkaido Board of Education, Toshihiro Kodama, was witnessed by New Zealand’s Ambassador to Japan, Hamish Cooper.

ENZ’s senior market manager for Japan, Misa Kitaoka was online to facilitate and translate. She said, “Despite the ongoing challenges of COVID, this online signing still managed to convey a celebratory atmosphere with ENZ’s waiata and the Hokkaido students’ taiko performance.

“While we wait for the border to reopen, we look forward to starting with online activities connecting Hokkaido and New Zealand schools.”

ENZ has facilitated opportunities for Hokkaido’s students for many years, including providing dairy scholarships to farming students since 2014.

Heather Barker Vermeer

Heather has worked as a journalist, writer and editor in England and Aotearoa New Zealand for over 20 years. She fell in love with words when she received a 'Speak & Spell' tech toy for Christmas in 1984.
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