ClassDo in CNA Correspondents' Diary

Watch the full video footage of the Correspondents' Diary episode here. (Source: CNA).

CNA Correspondents' Diary, 21 Mar 2020 - Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's request for schools to be closed for a month, while not mandatory, has caused widespread anger. With governments around the world bracing for the long haul in the war against COVID-19, some parents are looking into online schooling for their children, but are not sure what would work.

Japan has been criticised for being slow in promoting online education for children. Chiew Farn Chung, the founder of ClassDo, which creates virtual classrooms, has seen a surge of inquiries from educators and companies in Japan since the COVID-19 outbreak.

"It's very different from... a lot of Asian countries, where teachers are more empowered," says Mr Chung, talking about the difficulty of adopting online learning in public schools in Japan. In private schools, he says, school administrators can work closely with the principal in making such decisions. However, this is not the case with public schools.

"The teachers defer to the local school principal, the local school principal defers to the district, and the district would... keep deferring," says Mr Chung. "And it defers all the way up."

A lot may remain uncertain about the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is also increasingly clear that the global health crisis has the potential to permanently change the way we live and work.

Reported by Michiyo Ishida, CNA, Tokyo.

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