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  5. What counts as an international school?

What counts as an international school?

The definition of an ‘international school’ tends to be contested and confused by many misunderstandings. To complicate things further, the term is sometimes used differently in Japan and in other parts of the world. So, what is actually meant when a student is said to go to an international school?

Taken to one extreme, a school can be ‘international’ insofar as it hosts at least one foreign student, but this may be more of a wordplay. The Education Law in Japan also does not specify how an educational institution, whether at primary, secondary or tertiary level, becomes ‘international’. Hence, a more useful starting point would be to consider the purpose of receiving an international education.

The value of international schooling lies primarily in its highly diverse learning environment. Here, diversity is found not only in the composition of the faculty and student body, but also in the curriculum and teaching methods. Japan has a more homogenous population than most other countries, and its ‘monocultural’ schooling system may not suit those who wish to purse an international career. International schools, on the other hand, accustom students to working with people with different cultural backgrounds, values and perspectives.