At the same time as receiving great bounty from the oceans, humanity also has a considerable effect on the marine environment. Living in harmony with the oceans is a major issue for citizens, and the Basic Act on Ocean Policy includes "enhancement of citizens' understanding of the oceans" among its measures, encouraging the promotion of school education with regard to the oceans. Cultivating a correct awareness of the relationship between the oceans and humanity as well as the knowledge, skills, and decision-making and expressive abilities to allow sustainable development and use of the oceans based on preservation of the marine environment and international understanding is also in line with the twenty-first century capabilities targeted in future school education.
The evaluation of ocean education within the school education system remains unclear, however, and the conditions for fixing it as a standard part of the curriculum are inadequate, so there has been no conspicuous progress to date.
OPRI has identified five conditions for making ocean education a standard part of education in schools: clarification of the content of the education, development of the educational environment, expansion of external support systems, training of human resources, and promotion of educational research. To achieve all of these tasks, we are working together with education experts, government officials, teachers in the field, and others, and engaging in a range of research activities.
Project for Enhancing Ocean Education in the Japanese School System
On November 20, 2014, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology Hakubun Shimomura held consultations with the Central Council for Education, starting discussions on revising the Courses of Study. With the aim of expanding ocean education on school curriculums in the next revision of the Courses of Study, together with related bodies including the Nippon Foundation and the University of Tokyo Ocean Alliance Research Center for Marine Education (RCME), we are working to achieve the various conditions identified above.
The former Ocean Policy Research Foundation (OPRF) engaged in activities directly supporting schools from fiscal 2003 to fiscal 2006. It reached the conclusion that to make ocean education standard─as broad diffusion was difficult without sharing the concept and its significance among those involved at schools and whole areas─it was important to promote sharing of the idea in a top-down as well as bottom-up fashion.