Davao school celebrates Japanese gov't recognition

Subscribe Now October 03, 2013 at 08:28am

A school in the southern Philippine city of Davao on Mindanao island on Wednesday celebrated the recognition by the Japanese government for its exemplary Japanese language education.

Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Toshinao Urabe personally handed a certificate of commendation to Mindanao Kokusai Daigaku (Mindanao International College) during the kick-off of the 11th Philippine-Japan Festival in Davao.

Urabe said the award was conferred by Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida on July 31 in recognition of the school's "efforts in strengthening friendship between Japan and the Philippines through the promotion of Japanese language education."

"Now, MKD is producing a large number of Japanese Language Proficiency Test passers," he said.

"And MKD students have won more first-place awards at the Japan Foundation Manila National Nihongo Speech Contest than any other college in the Philippines," he added.

Antonina Escovilla, president of the Philippine Nikkei-Jin Kai Inc., the association of Filipino-Japanese descendants in Davao which owns and manages the school, said it is the first recognition that MKD has received from the Japanese government since starting in 2002.

"This award really means a lot to us. As MKD President Ines Mallari said after receiving the certificate, this award is a challenge for the school not only to be good at a particular level, but really to excel even beyond Davao, or all throughout the Philippines," Escovilla told Kyodo News in a phone interview.

"This has given us so much pride. Even if we are not the Japan Foundation, which has the role of propagating the Japanese language, or the Japan Information and Culture Center, which promotes the Japanese culture, we are doing our best to share the language and culture of Japan not only with our students, but also with the community here. So, it gives us so much pleasure that they recognize our effort," Mallari said in a separate phone interview.

"We hope that this recognition will translate into some form of assistance from the Japanese government, such as provision of Japanese teachers or at least, subsidizing their pay and expenses here, because we know Japan has the resources," she said, adding that having 10 Japanese teachers in the school is "quite a costly obligation."

Currently, the college's most popular course with 247 students is international studies, which focuses on Japanese language and Japan studies. MKD has 371 students in total and also offers courses in elementary and high school education, entrepreneurship, psychology and caregiving, including a Japanese course in the first two years.

Urabe notes "graduates of MKD are working in prestigious Japanese multinational companies operating in the Philippines," while 80 percent of its social services graduates are in Japan "pursuing the caregiver qualification program under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement."

"It is my earnest wish that MKD will continue this laudable journey in the quest for friendship and cooperation, not only between Japan and the Philippines, but among the members of our global community," he said.

Davao hosted many of the first Japanese migrants to the Philippines 110 years ago, who engaged in abaca farming.

Source: abs-cbnnews.com

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