Japan Educational Technology Opportunities
Japan welcomes the partnership of U.S. companies with solutions to help Japan put the latest mobile devices in the hands of every Japanese student.
GIGA = Global and Innovation Gateway for All
In December 2019, the Japanese cabinet approved the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT)’s supplementary budget of JPY 2,318 billion (about US$2.2 billion) for the Global Innovation Gateway for All (GIGA) school project. The budget will be allotted for two key elements: to fully supported high speed and large capacity IT network connections to each school, and provide PCs/Tablets to all elementary and secondary school pupils by 2023.
The Commercial Service in Japan’s education team believes that there is a great business opportunity for US EdTech companies with cutting edge software and content that wish to partner with local developers or establish relationships with major distributors in the market.
The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology’s Role
The budget breakdown will be JPY 2,173 billion (about US$2.1 billion) for public schools, JPY 119 Billion (about US$107 million) for private schools and JPY 26 billion (about US$23 million) for national schools. The budget will be allocated to local governments for public school projects from the central government budget, private schools will administer their own projects with 50% of the costs covered by the central government budget and national universities will be able to compete for funding from the JPY 26 billion set aside for these national schools.
The MEXT guidelines indicate that they want local governments to implement the network roll out project in 2020 and is encouraging official budget requests be presented to MEXT in early March of this year. Local governments will be able to secure Government of Japan’s (GOJ) 100% financial support if they meet this timeline. However, if local governments decide to put the project off until 2021, the GOJ financial support will be limited to 90% and local governments will need to make up the remaining 10%.
IT network development, characteristics and installation will largely depend on each local government. The GIGA Program might be the last chance for local and prefectural governments who are struggling with their own IT capabilities development to obtain central government support to accomplish this task. Regarding providing PC/tablets for each student, GOJ is allocating JPY 45,000 (US$ 450) per PC/tablet per student regardless of school type.
The GIGA project is a nationwide project which involves other governmental agencies such as the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications.
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s Role
METI is supporting the GIGA School project by subsidizing Japanese businesses that join and offer services and content to schools and local governments. To fully implement the GIGA project, METI is offering Japanese EdTech companies and consortia funding to implement or modify EdTech software such as LMS, study aids and advanced study programs, school business support systems and communication tools such as school backyard support system. Large companies, generally those with more 300 employees, are required to partner with small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) to qualify for participation in this program. METI seeks not only facilitating the GIGA program roll out, but also encouraging innovative companies’ growth and development. SMEs can choose to apply directly for funds or to form partnerships and compete on that basis for funding. See here for details on the proposal. (Japanese only)
This implementation plan shows Japanese government’s determination to address Japan’s perceived slow pace of adopting EdTech and to surpass other countries that have aggressively pursued IT solutions in the classroom. MEXT and METI aim to use this to boost Japan’s “5 year ICT advancement project” started in 2018 which will conclude in 2022.
For further information contact U.S. Commercial Service at Office.Tokyo@trade.gov.