GPE Youth Leaders’ Interview with Mr. Akira Endo, Special Coordinator for Syria and Chargés d'Affaires ad interim, the Embassy of Japan in Syria

GPE youth leaders carried out an interview with Mr. Akira Endo, Special Coordinator for Syria and Chargés d'Affaires ad interim, the Embassy of Japan in Syria, to hear about Japan’s efforts to support children in fragile and conflict-affected countries and its Official Development Assistance (ODA) policy for education.

March 18, 2022 by GPE Secretariat
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6 minutes read
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GPE Youth Leaders’ Interview with Mr. Akira Endo

Japan recently announced a pledge of US$8.5 million to GPE, with the majority of funds earmarked to countries in conflict - $6.2 million is for Yemen and $1.6 million is for Syria. The remaining $0.7 million will be used by the GPE fund to help countries develop and implement education sector plans.

To learn more about Japan’s pledge, two GPE youth leaders interviewed Mr. Akira Endo, Special Coordinator for Syria and Chargés d'Affaires ad interim, the Embassy of Japan in Syria, about Japan’s efforts to support children in fragile and conflict-affected countries and its Official Development Assistance (ODA) policy for education.

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Participants

Ayesha Farah is a 29-year-old British-Somali who is a passionate advocate for global education and committed to change through the power of youth participation.

Tomoe Nakano is a 27-year-old Japanese who firmly believes that good quality of education is essential for all, and is particularly interested in early childhood development.

Akira Endo is a Special Coordinator for Syria and Chargés d'Affaires ad interim, the Embassy of Japan in Syria.

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Ayesha Farah: In 2008 when Japan was the host of the G8, Japan also hosted an important Education for All - Fast Track initiative (EFA-FTI, the predecessor to GPE) meeting with donors. Is there any plan for Japan to do something on SDG 4 at the G7 Summit that Japan is going to host in 2023?

Akira Endo: As you rightly pointed out, during its past G7/G8 presidency, Japan launched initiatives in the field of education. At the G7 Ise-Shima Summit, for example, Japan shed light on the importance of girls' education. Japan would like to consider the possible outcomes of the G7 summit next year, taking into account the past achievements by the G7 as well as the priorities of the German presidency this year.

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Ayesha Farah: What are the challenges Syrian children are facing in education and what are Japan’s priorities in tackling this? What are your expectations of GPE’s support to Syria?

Akira Endo: Since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis in 2011, 2022 marks the 11th year of the conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic. Families and communities continue to experience violence, displacement, socioeconomic deprivation, health hazards from the pandemic, and trauma.

UNOCHA said in 2020 that domestically, more than 11.1 million people including 4.7 million children would need at least one form of humanitarian assistance in that year due to vulnerabilities resulting from displacement, exposure to hostilities, and limited access to basic goods and services.

The conflict has eroded progress toward achieving SDG 4. Prior to the crisis, almost all children were enrolled in primary education, and secondary school enrollment was 76 percent. The exacerbation of the conflict has resulted in a large number of out-of-school children who are particularly vulnerable.

Japan has a longstanding relationship with Syria. Since 2012, Japan has provided more than US$3.2 billion in emergency and humanitarian assistance to Syria and its neighboring countries through international organizations. Japan is determined to continue close collaboration with the international community to enhance access to humanitarian assistance in Syria.

The pledge to Syria is a part of Japan’s unwavering commitment to delivering humanitarian assistance for all Syrians who are facing difficulties. Japan expects GPE to support all children in Syria to have access to quality education.

Syrian refugee students listen to their school teacher, Merna Faddoul (top center) during math classes at the Bourjhammoud Public School #2 in Beirut, Lebanon on June 2, 2014. Credit: Dominic Chavez/World Bank
Syrian refugee students listen to their school teacher, Merna Faddoul (top center) during math classes at the Bourjhammoud Public School #2 in Beirut, Lebanon on June 2, 2014.
Credit:
Dominic Chavez/World Bank

Tomoe Nakano: I am very interested in Japan’s ODA policy on education “Learning Strategy for Peace and Growth”. Since the international community is moving toward a “transforming education” approach, do you think that Japan should also review its ODA strategy?

Akira Endo:The Learning Strategy for Peace and Growth” is policy direction regarding Japan's International Cooperation in education that Japan announced on the occasion of the adoption of the SDGs at the UN Summit in September 2015.

This policy sets out quality education through mutual learning as the vision and along with three guiding principles: (1) Education cooperation to achieve inclusive, equitable and quality learning; (2) educational cooperation for industrial, science and technology human resource development and sustainable socio-economic development; and (3) the establishment and expansion of international and regional network for educational cooperation.

Currently, we are going through an external assessment of this policy and this policy will be revised based on recommendations of the assessment.

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Tomoe Nakano: We understand that Japan has prioritized the promotion of human security within its ODA policy. What is Japan’s strategy to overcome the challenges that children face especially in fragile and conflict countries?

Akira Endo: Japan’s Development Cooperation Charter has prioritized promoting human security which is the guiding principle that lies at the foundation of Japan's development cooperation. Based on this principle, Japan has focused on supporting vulnerable groups such as children, women and persons with disabilities.

In addition, to promote human security, Japan has prioritized peacebuilding as a way to support fragile and conflict countries in its Charter, emphasizing efforts to protect and empower individuals, including children, at all stages from conflict to reconstruction and development.

In fact, the international community's total amount of aid to peacebuilding was $5.175 billion in 2018, which represents about 2.5% of total ODA. Japan ranked eighth in that year among other countries in the amount of aid to peacebuilding.

Japan's pledge to GPE to support education programs in Syria and Yemen is aligned to its Charter. The Japanese government is pleased to contribute to the continued education for children in Syria and Yemen.

A teacher works with a hearing impaired student at the Association for the Welfare and Rehabilitation of Deaf and Dumb. Credit: Dana Smillie / World Bank
A teacher works with a hearing impaired student at the Association for the Welfare and Rehabilitation of Deaf and Dumb.
Credit:
Dana Smillie / World Bank

Ayesha Farah and Tomoe Nakano: Japan recently pledged to GPE. Can you tell us more about Japan’s pledge to commitment to supporting education?

Akira Endo: Japan has pledged to contribute a total of US$8.5 million to GPE this year. US$6.2 million is for Yemen, US$1.6 million is for Syria, and the rest will be used by the GPE fund to help countries develop and implement education sector plans.

Japan attaches great importance to supporting education for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children and will continue to work with the international community to strengthen its support to achieve SDG 4.

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During the interview session, Mr. Endo talked about how his interest and passion for international peace and security led him to become a diplomat.

In addition, Mr. Endo asked Ayesha and Tomoe what keeps them so passionate about humanitarian aid. In response, Ayesha shared her experience of seeing children in danger and suffering in Somalia before her family immigrated to the UK, and felt that she could have been one of them.

She also shared that when she was faced with a career choice between becoming a teacher or an aid worker, her experience in working in early childhood education in Tanzania at the age of 19 made her realize that there were other ways to get more children to school besides becoming a teacher.

Tomoe also responded to the question saying that since Japan recovered from the war, she feels that there is so much that Japan can do to support fragile and conflict-affected countries.

At the end of the interview, the two youth leaders thanked Mr. Endo and expressed their expectations for Japan to step up and continue to contribute to improving the quality of education as a member of the international community.

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