Public Participation and Information Technologies 1999
Published by CITIDEP & DCEA-FCT-UNL, edited by Pedro Ferraz de Abreu & João Joanaz de Melo
© CITIDEP 2000

Chapter 7
PP-IT role in teaching, education and arts

Universal computer education: the international development of computer education program at KCG

Wataru HASEGAWA 4 & Akira HASEGAWA 5

1 KCG (Kyoto School of Computer Science) and CITIDEP USA. E-mail:
2 KCG (Kyoto School of Computer Science) and CITIDEP USA. E-mail:
3, 4, 5 KCG (Kyoto School of Computer Science)



Thousands of old but operational computers are thrown away every year in urban centers throughout the world, while most poor rural high school students in most countries have never used a computer. Obstacles which keep a used computer from being successfully placed in a rural high school include lack of computer skills on the part of the high school teacher, lack of awareness on the part of the urban user, screening and repair costs, shipping costs, and electrical power availability. This paper describes a program located at KCG (Kyoto School of Computer Science), Kyoto, Japan, which overcomes some of the obstacles to successful donation by forming a long-term partnership with the recipient country. The partnership between KCG and the recipient country involves the donation of both computers and computer instruction, so that high school teachers in the recipient country learn skills necessary to use the computers. The recipient country is responsible for distribution of the computers within the country, and for providing electrical power to the schools during the hours of computer instruction. Since 1991, ten such partnerships have been formed, and three have resulted in multiple donations; in all, more than 3000 personal computers have been donated.


I. Introduction

Kyoto Computer Gakuin [KCG] was established in 1963 as the first private computer institute in Japan. At this time the curtain was raised on the computer, we foresaw great possibilities in the approaching information age, and believed that education of technicians in large numbers would build the foundation of the coming age. KCG was the first school in Japan to introduce education in Information Science. For the past thirty two years, KCG has been a leader in developing the culture of information science in Japan. In 1989, we began to transfer our pioneer spirit to countries in which computer education had not been made widely available. The program called International Development of Computer Education [IDCE] was born in the form of a donation of three thousand sets of KCG's used computers (two thousand sets of 8-bit, one thousand sets of 16 & 32-bit personal computers).


II. Program First Stage: Initial Donation

In the first stage of the program, KCG donates some hundred sets of computers to the government of the recipient country.

The recipient country is to be responsible for the maintenance and the distribution of the donation to schools throughout their country. (Some ten to twenty shall be placed at each selected school.)

KCG sends instructors to the partner country to offer an intensive course for selected teachers of the schools/institutions which will receive or have received Donation. Examples of this part of the program are described in the following paragraphs.


Figure 1: Shipping computers from Japan to Africa, Europe, or Southeast Asia is a large undertaking. This photo shows a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Kyoto, celebrating the departure of a truckload of computers to Thailand.


A. Thailand

Cooperation with Thailand was initiated in 1989. In 1989-90, three hundred fifty one sets of computers donated. When the Minister of Education of Thailand visited Japan, schools and institutions were selected in twenty different cities throughout Thailand, each to receive some fifteen to twenty sets of the donated computers. KCG president Yasuko Hasegawa, along with two KCG officials, received awards from the Thai Minister of Education for their contribution to the program. The Minister said that there has never been a program like IDCE, and the IDCE program has created a ``computer railroad'' providing education and access to information technology all over Thailand. The highly successful result of our program prompted the Thai government and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to form a cooperative arrangement for further development.

In 1995, KCG arranged to donate approximately 50 32-bit portable computers to Thailand. The Thai Education Ministry started a new program called, "Computers on Wheels", where the Thai Educational Science Center would carry donated computers in two trailers and visit schools throughout Thailand.

B. Poland

Cooperation was initiated in 1990, with two hundred sets of computers donated. The department head of Information Technology from the Ministry of National Education in Poland visited KCG with a group of Polish teacher-students who came to take a computer training seminar at KCG as part of the IDCE project. At this time, the Ministry of National Education and KCG signed a "Declaration of Intent," whose purpose is to promote information technology and cultural exchange through a lasting relationship between the Polish government and KCG.

Based on the result of the KCG/IDCE program, a computer college called the Japan-Poland College of Information Technology was established in the Fall of 1994, in collaboration with the Polish government and the Japanese government. An instructor from KCG has been sent to Poland as a computer expert by JICA since 1994. In response to a request made by the Polish government, KCG was prepared to give equipment, as well as human support.

C. Ghana

Cooperation with Ghana was initiated in 1990. In 1991, two hundred fifteen sets of computers were donated. In 1992, KCG invited teachers from Ghana to Japan for computer training.

In January, 1993, a computer center named after the president of KCG, Yasuko Hasegawa, was opened in Ghana by the Ministries of Education and of Science and Technology. Yasuko Hasegawa, along with two other officials were invited, as the governmental guests to attend the opening ceremony and the celebration of the distribution of all the computers. At the ceremony, the Minister of Science and Technology announced that, (1) because of the success of the IDCE program, the ministry had decided to increase its budget for computer education in Ghana, and that (2) the program was now to become a joint project of the Ministries of Education and of Science and Technology, and that (3) KCG's work was a great achievement for the development of Ghana. The Minister compared the IDCE program to the Japanese-Ghanaian cooperation which began with Dr. Hideo Noguchi, a famous Japanese bacteriologist who did much valuable research concerning syphilitic diseases in Ghana, including, most notably, the discovery of the yellow fever virus.

A new scholarship was created, under which two high school students were selected by the Ministry of Ghana to be sent to KCG in the Fall of 1994.

In 1995, the Ministry of Education opened several computer centers in Accra, and KCG donated over a hundred units of 16-bit and 32-bit computers to the new centers. KCG also sent two instructors to spend some time in Ghana in 1995 helping teachers at the new computer centers.

D. Kenya

In 1992, two hundred sets of computer were donated. In 1993, and technical training courses were held in Nairobi and Kyoto. The computer seminar in Nairobi was attended by approximately 50 high school teachers from all parts of Kenya. A photograph of the seminar attendees, outside of the seminar building, is shown in figure 2.


Figure 2: The computer seminar in Kenya was attended by approximately 50 high school teachers from around the country, as shown in the photo above.

After the invited Kenyan students completed their program in Japan and returned home to Kenya, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Research, Technical Training and Technology in Kenya, Professor Karega Mutahi wrote KCG a letter saying, "This equipment has enabled us to take the first step towards the introduction of computer technology on a nationwide basis. ...It appears as if we have sparked off an upsurge of computer interests amongst most of our institutions. ...Such an approach would help us to avoid the long standing inequality that has existed between rural and urban institutions. As we pursue this goal we look forward to more support from friends like you and your school."

A second donation of computers was sent to Kenya in 1998.

E. Zimbabwe

Two hundred sets of computers were donated to the Ministry of Higher Education, and were shipped to Zimbabwe in the summer of 1993. KCG sent instructors in the summer of 1994 to offer a seminar at the National University of Science and Technology [NUST] in Bulawayo. Selected participants of the NUST seminar and additional high school teachers flew to Japan in November of 1994 to take advanced seminars at KCG. Professor P. M. Makhurane, Vice-Chancellor of NUST, also visited KCG. The Ministry of Higher Education is now in the process of placing the donated computers in selected high schools and polytechs throughout Zimbabwe.

F. Peru

In 1993, the Ministry of the Presidency initiated a KCG/IDCE program in Peru. Two hundred sets of computers were shipped to Peru in the Summer of 1994. The program was then passed to the Ministry of Education. KCG sent instructors to Peru in January, 1995. Ms. Iliana Fujimori, a niece of the President Fujimori, participated in the program as an instructor. After the initial seminar was held in Lima, fifteen Peruvian high school teachers were selected to go to KCG in Japan for further training. Donated computers were scheduled to be distributed to selected high schools in Peru soon thereafter.

G. Other Countries

Cooperative programs have also been formed with the countries of China, Sri Lanka, and Malawi. Computers and instructors were sent to China in 1997. In 1998, computers were donated to the Arthur C. Clarke Technology Center in Sri Lanka, and to the Ministry of Education in Malawi.


III. Program Second Stage: Long-Term Collaboration

After completion of the fundamental program, KCG and the recipient country are expected to try to continue to collaborate together, as much as possible, in order to promote the computer education of the recipient's country. This collaboration may include continued exchanges of students and teachers, and/or more computer donations by KCG.

One of the most interesting aspects of continued collaboration has been a series of multinational computer training seminars, which have been organized in Kyoto. The first KCG international joint training course was held in February, 1992 for teachers from East Europe, Africa, and South East Asia. Forty people from three continents with totally different cultures attended the course, and were able to live and study together successfully with our teachers and staff in an environment of international, borderless cooperation and friendship.

The second KCG international joint training course was held in October, 1994, as part of the twelve hundred year anniversary celebration of the city of Kyoto. Some forty teachers visited Kyoto from Peru, Zimbabwe, Thailand, and Ghana.

In 1995, JICA started a new computer program for African countries. Because of the success of KCG/IDCE program, KCG has been appointed by JICA as an institution qualified for training programs involving computer and related technologies.


IV. Costs of the Program

The cost of the IDCE program is substantial, for both donor and recipient. Japanese institutions of higher education are tightly regulated in their finances, so KCG decided early on that no student tuition would be used in the funding of the IDCE program; all funding on the Japanese side must come from donations earmarked specifically for the IDCE program.

In most computer donation programs, the most important cost is the cost of screening old computers from many different manufacturers to find out whether they work or not, and fixing those which do not work. If computers are donated one at a time by individuals, the cost of screening is prohibitive.

The IDCE program minimizes screening costs by only accepting donations of at least 50-100 computers, which should all be produced by the same manufacturer. Computers donated in the early stages of the IDCE program (before 1994) were computers which had been retired from normal classroom use at KCG in Kyoto. Recent donations (since 1994) have often supplemented KCG donations with used computers donated by UNISYS, TOSHIBA, NEC, HITACHI and other corporations. Student tuition was not used in the funding of these projects.

The second large cost for the donor of multiple computers is the cost of shipping. In the IDCE program, the cost of shipping has been funded entirely by private donations specifically earmarked for the IDCE program. In order to raise money for early programs in Ghana and Thailand, KCG hosted a Gala Benefit Concert in Kyoto in 1991. Since then, independent donations have been sufficient to fund shipping costs.

The third large cost in a computer donation project is the cost of providing electricity to the schools which will use the computers, and transformers which will downstep the voltage of the local power grid so that it can be used to power donated computers. As part of the long-term cooperation between KCG and any recipient country, KCG has chosen to stipulate that the recipient country must be willing to provide electric power to recipient schools during the hours of computer use, and to supply transformers which will power the computer. Most countries have found that the cost of electric power is justified by the prospect of universal computer education.


V. Conclusion

As described above, this project has been successful in many countries. The combination of a large donation of computers with a training course for local teachers has proven effective repeatedly. The real key to success, however, is a host government which understands the project's importance, and promotes it throughout the country.

The first step in planning a project is often to convince the host government of the necessity of teaching information technology as a kind of literacy. Many governments believe that knowledge of information technology is only useful to business specialists and scientists. Once we succeed in changing their image of information education, it becomes easier for us to promote the project. By initiating a new paradigm for information education, the KCG/IDCE project can take on historical significance in the educational administration of a country.

A quite different kind of success has developed from the international relationships and friendships fostered by the KCG/IDCE project. In their visits to other countries, our staff have found themselves acting as ambassadors, carrying Japanese information culture from their home in Kyoto to the four corners of the World.

The training courses held in Kyoto for teachers from other countries were successful both in fulfillment of their educational goals, and in the development of international friendships and understanding. Since the teachers who came to Kyoto were graduates of KCG seminars in their home countries, their former instructors were on hand to welcome them. The teachers from other countries stayed in KCG dormitories with some of our teachers, allowing us to display hospitality and deepen our friendships at the same time. Many of the visiting teachers were accompanied by ministry officials from their home countries, each on hand to discuss the further development of information education in his or her own country. The project therefore served to deepen international friendships on both official and personal levels.

The goal of the KCG/IDCE project is to make education in science and technology available to ordinary people. We believe that promotion and popularization of science and technology is the key to prosperity of a country as an independent nation. We ask other countries to understand the truth of KCG vision.



Yu Hasegawa, Yasuko Hasegawa, Wataru Hasegawa, and Akira Hasegawa (1993), "Computer Education as Literacy: The IDCE program at Kyoto Computer Gakuin," in Proceedings of the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Comparative and International Education Society, Boston, MA.