HomePresident's MessageJuly 27, 2008

President's Message

Otsuka Yutaka

Otsuka Yutaka
Japan Comparative Education Society

Although I have been actively involved with the Japan Comparative Education Society (JCES) for over 35 years since 1973, I nevertheless find myself surprised - indeed, perplexed - in having recently been elected its president. The JCES has benefitted from the stewardship of successive presidents who were and are all such eminent scholars and it has numerous experienced senior members as well as many promising new members - each of whom seems more deserving than I.

However, setting aside knowledge and academic attainment, I would say that my regard and respect for this particular discipline is second to none. With this passion, I am intending to apply the best of my abilities toward the further development of the Society. I therefore sincerely hope and trust that I will have the strong support from all our members so that we may all capitalize upon a combined effort.

Not only studies of foreign education but also comparative studies have been conducted in each sub-discipline or specialized field constituting pedagogy or educational science, respectively. Consequently, the peculiar domain or raison d'etre of our discipline has experienced increasing relevance over a long period. However, there remain a considerable number of countries and areas where education has yet to be formally studied at all. On the other hand, even for those countries and areas which have received relatively more academic attention, the number of previous studies which have been successful in clarifying and articulating the essence of respective educational systems and visions remains limited, when scrupulous observation of various conditions including economy, politics, culture, etc., are taken into consideration. Looking at issues and problems, there is a wide range of target areas suitable for the pursuit of our discipline such as relations of education to development support, the environment, international exchanges and gender issues, etc. Due to the complex and diffuse nature of these topics, they are almost too unmanageable for other, more restricted and finite disciplines of educational science to comprehend. Furthermore, the investigation of comparative research methods itself has also been at a standstill for some time now.

It seems that there are multiple themes awaiting our pursuit. We comparative educators are expected to contribute educational theories upon which practical solutions to educational problems can be based. What we should do now is revisit the range of our field, to define the spread of its wing, and report anew not only the knowledge and intellectual assets accumulated in the past but also new observations which are pertinent to our present and ever-changing surroundings. It is a matter of course that this should be continuously performed through presentations at conferences and representation in the JCES's research journal and other publications. The compilation of a synthetic encyclopedia of comparative education, although still in the early stages of development, is another exciting and important means to realize such goals. Given the successful launch of this latter project, newer members are requested to contribute written articles, and senior members are not only requested to write their own articles but also expected to play a mentoring role for less experienced members. Such collaboration will eventually enhance the cohesiveness of our Society.

Finally, the JCES website should be enriched to strengthen our outward reach and visibility, and relationships and exchanges with other allied societies need our continued attention and energy, particularly those with neighboring countries. However, no matter how earnestly and diligently its president or other board member may work, the sustained development, progress and ultimately accomplishment of a learned society cannot be realized without the effort and commitment of each individual member. Thus, while I and other new board members certainly promise to devote our utmost efforts in the execution of the Society's management, at the same time I eagerly call upon every member to do their best to actively support the further growth of the JCES.

July 27, 2008

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