COLLEGE OF MISCELLANEOUS STUDIES:
A Creative Effort Led by Citizens
June 29, 1999
The enthusiastic response to classes at the school proves you're never too old to learn.
No tuition charged, no payment made to lecturers, and no fees needed for borrowing the venue: At one unique citizens' college in the Tama area of western Tokyo, expenses are almost nil for both students and administrators. In its fourth year, the college is run entirely by volunteers. Some 500 students are enrolled, most of whom are in their sixties, and the number of lecturers totals about 200. The quality of the lectures, moreover, stands on a par with those given at regular universities.
Responding to People's Will to Learn
Classes are held every Sunday, with renowned scholars and other persons of culture as lecturers, and the venue switches among several places that local universities, post offices, and companies lend for free. Contrary to what one might imagine from the name Nishi Tokyo Zatsugaku Daigaku (West Tokyo College of Miscellaneous Studies), the quality of its class contents is just as high as that of ordinary universities. The curriculum consists of 13 subjects: politics, economics, Tama studies, natural science, high-tech industry, environment, literature, fine arts, education, history, religion, family life, and daily life.
Checks on Public Administration
The lecturers evaluate the school highly, too. One professor, for example, was deeply impressed after giving a lecture. "Young students at regular colleges often chat during class," he said. "Here, everyone listens earnestly, and their questions go right to the point." Since its inception, the college has had no lack of people volunteering to be lecturers.
Many of the students are former corporate and government employees who left work at retirement age. Taking advantage of the broad personal connections brought on by such students and lecturers, the college organizers are planning to create a think tank in the future to keep a check on administrative functions and tax money. From lifelong learning to the surveillance of wide-area administration, the dream keeps on growing.
Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.