Business Commentary for Rational Individuals

Toyota Adds Forpro Education to Its Portfolio

Dr. Bill Belew

Issue II - June 18, 2006

Introduction by Mr. Stolyarov: Toyota has recently founded Kaiyo Academy in Japan, modeled after Britain's Eton Academy. Dr. Bill Belew explains how this new for-profit school aims to increase educational standards in reaction to a progressive "dumbing-down" of public-school curricula in Japan. This article is another illustration of how private enterprise can excel in the field of education. 

Former Toyota President Shoichiro Toyoda has founded Kaiyo Academy, a $175-million school that he modeled after Britain's Eton Academy -- a school that boasts 19 British Prime Ministers among her alumni and the second-in-line to the throne, Prince William.

In Japan there is dissatisfaction with the 'dumbing-down' of its curriculum. Four years ago, the government cut 30% of the workload off the elementary and junior high school curriculum.

Toyota's Kaiyo academy is attractive for many reasons.

1. It is backed by Toyota.

2. It is focusing on developing kids who can do more than just pass exams.

3. It is backed by Toyota.

4. The facilities are first-rate.

5. It is backed by Toyota.

6. Wireless enabled, grand pianos in the music rooms -- attention to detail that you expect from Toyota.

7. It is backed by Toyota.

8. It will have high-quality teaching and first-rate educational resources.

9. Did I say it was backed by Japan's corporate superstar, Toyota?

It costs about $26,000 a year to attend, and of course there are rigorous testing requirements to just get in. Asians love this sort of thing, and the Japanese are no different.

And, of course, there are critics.

1. It is open to boys only.

2. Toyota, and its partners, Central Japan Railway and Chubu Electric Power, don't know anything about the education business.

Toyota reckons it can spare some of the $12.5 billion it earned in the first quarter of this year to learn how to do education better.

My money is on Toyota and its influence in the forpro industry in Japan.

What do you think?

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Dr. Bill Belew is a former Intelligence Officer for a Destroyer Squadron. He lived 20 years in Japan, where he started a language school for Japanese ECS. Dr. Belew teaches classes for a vocational school and online for a national university.

See Dr. Belew's blog, PanAsianBiz, for news and discussions about business and current events in Russia and Asia. See ZhongHuaRising for Dr. Belew's reports on business in China, RisingSunofNihon on business in Japan, and TheBizofKnowledge on business education.

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