Okayama University


SDGs Café – “Learning from a Science Textbook Production Project in Papua New Guinea” 

November 15, 2019

Okayama University has been promoting initiatives toward the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) presented by the United Nations. On November 13, the second SDGs Café “Learning from a Science Textbook Production Project in Papua New Guinea” was held at Okayama University on Tsushima campus, focusing on Goal No. 4 “Quality Education.” At the L-Café, which is a platform for international education and cultural exchange, students (including international students), staff and faculty members discussed solutions to improve the educational environment in developing nations.

To begin the SDGs lecture, President MAKINO Hirofumi addressed the attendees with a word of encouragement at the end of his speech, stating “We promote SDG-related activities as a university-wide effort. I would like you students to actively participate in creating successful cases for the promotion of the SDGs.” The importance of partnering with the UN SDGs to combat global issues as a University community was deeply encouraged.

Furthermore, to provide a great example of supporting “Quality Education”, Professor KITA Masakazu from the Graduate School of Education, explained the current status and educational environment of Papua New Guinea. According to his report, the local children in Papua New Guinea do not have available textbooks and must transfer by hand everything written onto the blackboard into their notebooks. In order to provide a solution for a lack of science books to read and study from, he partnered with local textbook writers in Papua New Guinea in order to complete and to distribute science textbooks and tutorial manuals to the schools. In essence, he also initiated a project to share a new, textbook-based instruction method so that learner-oriented classes could be executed. Professor KITA Masakazu’s effort to provide “Quality Education” in Papua New Guinea is a prime example of transformational leadership modeled to all in attendance at the SDGs Café.

Subsequently, Mr. Sieng Thavy, a former teacher in Cambodia and second year student in the Master’s program at the Graduate School of Education, explained the challenges he faced in the field of education in his home country and having to use handmade educational equipment when teaching. Mr. Sieng Thavy’s captivating presentation provided real-world examples of poor education methods used in developing countries, which encouraged the need of educational experts to come together in combatting this global issue.

A comment made from a student in attendance at SDGs Café: “I was able to learn about the current situation of an island country in the Pacific region which I am not familiar with, and realize the differences with Japan.” Another student mentioned “I would like to utilize what I learned today for future SDG activity plans.” Overall, attendees were encouraged and inspired to think innovatively in finding solutions to support Okayama University and The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, more specifically providing “Quality Education” in developing countries such as Papua New Guinea and Cambodia.