Todai project aims to find future Thomas Edisons of Japan


The University of Tokyo’s Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology and the Nippon Foundation will launch a project to find highly talented children who refuse to go to school and to educate them as future leaders.

The project aims to discover human resources like renowned inventor Thomas Edison, who only briefly attended elementary school. Edison’s talent bloomed after his mother supported his studies.

In some cases, children lose interest in their classes due to problems communicating with others or they are only interested in particular areas and eventually stop going to school. The project hopes to satisfy the interests of such children and help them develop their talents.

The center and the foundation will accept candidates from among children in the third year of elementary school to the third year of junior high. Ten children will be selected through screenings of applications and interviews.

An activity space will be established at the center and experts will conduct special classes. Private lessons, including online inquiries, will also be offered. Textbooks and other materials will be provided for 100 children who are not selected.

The foundation plans to set aside ¥500 million for the project.

The center and the foundation postponed the start of application acceptance to September from May because the number of inquiries from guardians topped 500 after the project was announced in April. Briefing sessions will be held in five cities. Because the Tokyo sessions filled up quickly, an additional briefing was scheduled for late this month.

Kenryu Nakamura, a professor at the center overseeing the project, said Japan has forgotten about children who stop going to school because they are too good at studies and become bored.

Kazuto Sawatari of the Nippon Foundation said that children who disrupt classes by asking teachers lots of questions have nowhere to go and their unique talents go to waste.