Kaiyo Academy: the appeal of an Etonian elitist education

Today we take a look at KAIYO ACADEMY (http://www.kaiyo.ac.jp), an elite boys’ boarding school for 13-18-year-olds cast in the mold of Eton College in the UK and what makes the new school so desirable to parents.

An Etonian style education (Eton which has been educating the offspring of royalty and turning out leaders of nations, governments and industry since the 15th century) at Kaiyo Academy, was built on 130,000 square meters (155,500 square yards) at the cost of 20 billion yen of reclaimed land on a bay in central Aichi prefecture, base of auto giant Toyota. An education at Kaiyo Academy costs parents about 3 million yen a year. Though the school took in only 124 students in its first year of operation, nearly 1,000 applicants competed for places.

Just what was so appealing about this unabashedly elitist institution? Here is my list of appeal factors for this class of schools:

  • elitist appeal comes often with and is synonymous with exclusivity — the price-tag and high bars (entry-determining written tests, interviews);
  • the reputation of Eton and of the school’s founding member (biz mogul in the J. community);
  • the potential of buying into such an elite (money) network for one’s children;
  • the “comprehensive” six-year curriculum and accelerated education offered;
  • the bells-and-whistles that money can buy: facilities like a good library, security, individual laptops;
  • the promise of a rigorous curriculum “The school intends to devote twice as many hours as other schools to teaching basic subjects such as Japanese, mathematics and English”;
  • high goals and aspirations;
  • the promise of the honing of future leadership;
  • the promise of quality of supervision, pastoral care and discipline;
  • an elite prep school promises to be a stepping stone to prestigious top-tier colleges and overseas colleges like Harvard;
  • dormitory life (structured life, discipline and independence from parents) — the appeal of a muggle’s version of Hogwarts?

Are these trappings or are these factors of a “great school”? Does this environment mold our kids into an educated person? Decide for yourself…a number of press articles are posted below for your scrutiny.

Eton-style boarding school for Japan: Boys’ academy to open after years of post-war aversion to elite schools

By Kwan Weng Kin, Straits Times

“After decades of post-war public antipathy towards the idea of elite schools, a secondary school modelled after Britain’s prestigious Eton College is set to open in Japan.
Kaiyo Academy–which like Eton will take in boys only — will receive its first batch of 124 students early next month at the start of the Japanese school year.
The school is located by the sea in Gamagori city about an hour by train southeast of Nagoya in Aichi prefecture.
With full boarding facilities, the school for 13-18 year-olds will charge each student about 3 million yen a year, an unheard-of sum for a boarding school in Japan.
Despite the high fees and untried quality of teaching nearly 1,000 applicants competed for places.
They had to sit for written tests and were interviewed to assess their leadership abilities, creativity and ability to work with others.
Successful applicants were given materials for brushing up on their English before starting school.
Parents of the applicants were apparentl convinced of the excellence of the institution as the project is headed by Aichi-based Toyata Motors, Japan’s most profitable and respected company.
Also involved are other key corporations in Aichi, including Japan Railways Tokai and Chubu Electric.
Japan’s business moguls have long been calling for education reforms as they think Japan needs a new generation of leaders who are able to succeed in today’s globalised economy.
Dismayed by the lack of progress by the government, and no doubt hoping to catalyse change in Japan, Toyata’s honorary chairman Shoichiro Toyoda speaheaded a new school modelled along the lines of Britain’s elite public shcools. At the school’s completion ceremony last month. Mr Toyoda spearheaded a project in 2003 to build a new school modelled along the lines of Britain’s elite public schools.
At the school’s completion ceremony last month, Mr Toyoda said: “We hope the school will produce excellent people for Japan, for the world, for humanity and for society.”
A strict regimen awaits the students, who will have to rise at 6:30 every morning with lights-out at 10:30 pm.
The boys will live in Internet-ready single rooms but there are no locks on the doors and television sets are not permitted.
The student dormitories will be called “houses”, in the British tradition.
Companies involved in the project will dispatch staff to the school to serve as live-in house masters, acting as surrogate parents.
The school intends to devote twice as many hours as other schools to teaching basic subjects such as Japanese, mathematics and English.
Despite this, the normal six-year curriculum for 13 to 18-year-olds, as stipulated by the Education Ministry, will be completed in the first four years, leaving the final two years for the students to pursue their own interests including preparing for a college education abroad.
principal Takeo Izuyama says he wants to encourage the boys to aim for top schools like Harvard.
A retired physics professor, he was until recently head of Kaisei, a boys’ school in Tokyo that is well known for sending large numbers of students to top Japanese colleges.
Despite Kaiyo Academy’s self-proclaimed elite character, its establishment has not met any criticism.
Similar elite schools in pre-war Japan were accused of producing leaders who led the country to a disastrous war in World War II.
“Because of that experience, post-war Japan regarded elite schools as a bad thing so people pushed for equality in education, said Professor Emiritus Yo Takeuchi of Kyoto Univesity.
“But it is a good sign that there has been no opposition to the new school. I think Japan sould have various kinds of schools,” said Prof Takeuchi, who is regarded as Japan’s foremost expert on education.


Japan experiments with elitism in Eton-inspired school
2006/4/9, AFP/Jiji Press
Excerpt — Kaiyo Academy, built with 20 billion yen (170 million dollars) in corporate donations, opened at the weekend with the support of big business and the aim of turning out future leaders.

“The Kaiyo Academy aims to nurture people who will be able to lead Japan in the future,” Toyota Motor honorary chairman Shoichiro Toyoda, a driving force behind the project, told 123 12-year-old boys wearing crisp black uniforms at an enrollment ceremony Saturday. ..

A Japanese boys’ boarding school modelled on Britain’s Eton has sparked concerns that the egalitarian education which many believe has underpinned the country’s economic success could be undermined by a trend towards elitism.

Parents of students at Kaiyo Academy have high hopes for their children.

“I want him to become a man who can be useful for his country,” said a 41-year-old businessman from Tsukuba city, east of Tokyo and more than 300 kilometers (180 miles) from the school.

“South Korea, China, India … other countries are very keen on elite education,” he said as he dropped off his son, adding that he hoped the child would become a world-class scientist” Read the entire article here.


‘Japan’s Eton’ opens with high hopes: Corporate backers, parents expect school to produce new style of leaders

Sunday, April 9, 2006, Japan Times

News photo
Students at Kaiyo Academy, a school modeled after Britain’s Eton, attend the opening ceremony Saturday.

Excerpt — Read the whole article here.


“A child’s future is determined by his school, and the school is determined by money,” said his father, who spoke on condition that their family name not be used. “I want to make sure my son has the advantages I never did.”

The school, which will pack six years of junior high and high school education into four, is corporate Japan’s attempt to counter the egalitarian and test-intensive public education system…

“TV games, manga and cram schools eat away at children’s free time,” Yoshiyuki Kasai, JR Tokai chairman and a member of the school’s board of directors, said. “The ability to think outside the box comes from a structured life.”

That structure at Kaiyo Academy centers around the students’ daily schedules. They will get up at 6:30 a.m. and eat breakfast at 7:15 a.m. They will then attend six classes, each 50 minutes long, with an hour for lunch. Dinner will take place between 6:15 and 7 p.m. After a free hour, when parents can call, students will study until 10 p.m., with lights out 30 minutes later.

By following this rigid schedule, with four hours of classes on Saturdays, the school hopes to achieve its goal of getting its students to complete the six years’ worth of education in four. For the first three years, students will spend twice as much time on math, Japanese and English as their counterparts in public schools…

The hopes of parents and the firms center around what the kids may gain through dorm life.

Students will have a small room for themselves in one of three dormitories. In each dorm, three “floor masters” sent from companies like Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co. and Hitachi Ltd. live with the kids, as well as a “house master” employed by the school.

“I hope students will learn to stand on their own two feet, obey the rules, take care of their friends and value differences in others,” said house master Takamasa Shinozaki, a former banker.

3 thoughts on “Kaiyo Academy: the appeal of an Etonian elitist education”

  1. Asians are reputed to possess the highest IQ’s. Isn’t it fitting that there should be elite institutions to develop those IQ’s?

    1. Obviously there’s a demand, since places at the few that exist are always oversubscribed. The question is why can’t public education develop a place for or accommodate the gifted as well … other countries such as Singapore have programmes funded by public tax money that do accommodate the gifted or advanced.

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