JAPAN: GIGA Update (EdTech)
The Japanese government’s GIGA project to provide Japanese students with personal computers is part of Guidelines for IT Security Policy in Education.
Japan’s goal of “one device per one student” has been largely reached. Although OECD surveys in 2018 showed that Japan was the country least utilizing digital equipment at schools, by March 2021 the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) completed 97.6% of their planned delivery of hardware devices to 1,769 local governments. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, MEXT accelerated the first phase of its GIGA projects, finishing in a quarter of the time they had originally planned.
U.S. devices and OS were very popular options in the GIGA project. According to the private consulting firm MM Research Institute, Apple’s iPad was a clear favorite, having sold 2.1 million units out of the total 7.4 million (28%) devices distributed by MEXT. Windows and Google Chrome OS equipped devices accounted for 5.3 million.
OECD surveys have shown a rapid increase in Japanese youth using computers and other devices outside of schools. This indicates that there is not low IT literacy amongst students, but more of an issue with the education system’s lack of IT infrastructure.
The second phase of Japanese government’s GIGA program is specifically targeted at the development of a national ICT education infrastructure. The main pillar of this phase is “cloud by default,” i.e., the establishment of high speed and large capacity IT network connections to each school. MEXT established its first “Guidelines for IT Security Policy in Education” in 2017 and revised them in May 2021. The revised policy emphasizes that local governments/schools address security measures including implementation of multi-factor authentication, SSO (single sign on), and restricting the connection of students’ terminals to school access points only for secure usage. This indicates that the ideal network environment for schools won’t require network isolation/division for school administration and academic usage. LBO (Local Break Out) is suggested to offload the concentrated data traffic connected to internet via school districts’ servers and route it directly to the internet.
Starting in April 2022, MEXT allocated USD 9.9 million (1.1 Billion YEN) to allow selected K-12 schools to join the Science Information Network (SINET) to accelerate Japanese schools’ ICT development. SINET is the primary Japanese academic network for more than 800 universities and research institutions (see https://www.sinet.ad.jp/en/aboutsinet-en). In conjunction with the next revision of textbooks in 2024, MEXT aims to implement “digital textbooks” at all elementary schools in Japan. In addition, MEXT is looking to develop a “smart school scheme,” in which all the academic and administrative data can be more effectively utilized to help students, teachers and parents enter into what is being called “Society 5.0”.
The U.S. Commercial Service Japan continues to monitor MEXT’s GIGA’s progress and aims to introduce U.S. EdTech companies to key decision-makers in Japan’s EdTech market. We welcome U.S. companies’ inquiries about potential market opportunities in this rapidly changing environment.
For further information, please contact U.S. Commercial Service at Office.Osaka-Kobe@trade.gov.