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Nagoya International School plans expansion to meet surging demand from expat families

Chunichi Shimbun

Nagoya International School (NIS) in the Chubu region is planning an extension after seeing a sudden increase in students.

Fueled by an influx of skilled foreign workers and their families to Japan, the boom has highlighted the shortage of international schools in a region popular with expats.

NIS offers three programs: elementary (for nursery to elementary school students), junior high, and diploma (for high school students).

Currently, there are approximately 400 students from 37 countries enrolled in the Moriyama Ward school.

NIS usually receives a handful of transfers in spring, when the academic year starts, as well as in summer, but last month it received transfer applications for 30 students.

There is only one English international school in Aichi Prefecture. By comparison, Tokyo and Osaka have 12 and three, respectively.

As a temporary solution, the school will convert a single-story, 30,000 sq.-meter residence next to the campus into a two-story classroom by summer for junior high and high school students.

“Our curriculum may be affected if the number of students continues to increase,” said Erik Olson-Kikuchi, director of admissions and development at NIS.

As a permanent measure, NIS is considering constructing a new multipurpose building at the main area of the campus.

Kenji Mizutani, a professor of economics at Nagoya University who has served as an advisor to NIS for some 30 years, said he believed “the children’s education is the most important factor to an expat when deciding whether to take an overseas assignment.”

Professor Mizutani himself has worked in New York City.

“If companies and research facilities in Chubu want to attract talented staff, they have to make sure that educational institutions for children are established properly in the region,” he said.

When the school was constructing a new building from 1998 to 2004 as an anti-earthquake measure, the industrial world played a part in raising funds.

The late Iwao Isamura, who was vice chairman of the Nagoya Chamber of Commerce and Industry and of Toyota Motor Corp., led a committee to collect donations from companies and the wider region.

“The expansion that the school is planning now will help Chubu become an international region and raise its appeal in the long run,” Mizutani said.

Instead of depending on the industrial world alone, he is pushing for Aichi Prefecture, the city of Nagoya and other public sectors to work together with the private sector.

This section, appearing Tuesdays, features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by the Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published on Jan. 18.