Changing grassroots communities and lifelong learning in Japan
Japanese community is falling apart. This is caused by the combination of two problems: on the one hand, people are feeling their existence to be less and less stable and their reality is being shaken; on the other hand, the sense of values in the society is becoming more and more diversified and fluid. In the background of the two problems are three issues facing society: the rapidly declining birth rate and aging and dwindling population; the prolonged economic depression and destabilised employment; and the destruction of communal ties among inhabitants due to change in grassroots communities and the increasing isolation of individuals comprising the so-called no-bondage society. What is attracting more and more attention by policymakers addressing the two crises is lifelong learning. Challenges facing lifelong learning in Japan do not simply mean the acquisition of competency as often discussed in Western countries. More importantly, they are about how we can link learning activities to the formation of a new community. What is required of us is to seek how we can build up a community that creates a constant equilibrium by being dynamic, ensures the lifestyle of community residents by changing itself and recognises their human dignity. ‘Learning’ no longer means distributing rights to education through a uniform system like school education. Now, it means the style of residents' existence to create a new community. There, ‘learning’ has become the government's critical task in the field of residents' autonomy.
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