Subcontinent envy

Some of the best food to be found in England has its origins in Delhi and Puducherry. Now, it seems, some of the best education to be found in Japan has its home in India, too. The New York Times reports that Japanese parents are experiencing a "craze for Indian education," and that the demand is being seen in a surge of applications for Japan's few Indian international schools. The Global Indian International School, for example, is building a second campus to accommodate the flood of applicants. Over the last several years, the Land of the Rising Sun has grown increasingly insecure about its future economic and educational clout--and fears were only exacerbated last month when the OECD reported that in math, Japan had fallen from first place in 2000 to tenth place. The country's scores in science fell, too. According to Professor Yoshinori Murai, who teaches at Tokyo's Sophia University, as Japan's educational prominence wanes "its attitudes toward Asia are changing. It has started seeing India and China as nations with something to offer." Thus the demand for spots at schools such as Little Angels Academy in Mitaka, where most of the teachers and textbooks are South Asian, and the curriculum is rigorous (5-year-olds learn to multiply and write one-page essays). Gadfly wonders: If the Japanese are scared about falling behind in international competitiveness in math and science, where, exactly, does that leave Americans?

"Losing an Edge, Japanese Envy India's Schools," by Martin Fackler, New York Times, January 2, 2008