Japanese build an 'Eton' inspired by Harry Potter

20th May 2005 at 01:00
JAPAN

Deeply entranced by stories of boarding-school life in the Harry Potter books, Japan has announced the opening of its first Eton-style school, scheduled for April next year.

A consortium of powerful businesses headed by Toyota is building their version of the famous English public school on the banks of the Pacific Ocean, not far from the city of Nagoya. The plan is to produce a generation of graduates free from the hidebound thinking that its creators believe cripples Japanese society and business.

The 500-place Kaiyo academy will provide boarding-school education for boys only, aged 13 to 18. It plans to adopt many aspects of Eton college, combining the middle and high school curriculums and its house system.

Famous for producing leaders of industry, politics and the military, Eton charges around pound;22,000 a year to school young men in character development as well as academic performance. Given Japan's exam-centred education system, its version of Eton will represent an entirely different approach and one that its founders hope will help Japan out of its social and economic difficulties.

Shoichiro Toyoda, honorary chairman of Toyota, who helped to germinate the idea of a Japanese Eton, said: "I have long thought that we need an educational institution that can develop human resources with creative talents".

A briefing session for the new school held in Tokyo, attended by the present head of Eton, Tony Little, attracted more than 1,200 parents of would-be pupils.

Mr Little said he found a genuine concern about this lack of leadership.

"The question is whether a British solution would be the answer; but I'm interested to see what they make of the boarding environment."

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