On January 12, 2006, Deborah Koolbeck (Policy Staff, U.S. Representative Rush Holt) and David Hermann of US Embassy, Japan visited Tokyo University of Science (TUS) to exchange opinions on issues regarding higher education. The discussion focused on issues in the development of qualified math and science teachers for primary and secondary education. At present, the U.S. is facing problems due to the declining quality of teachers in primary and secondary education, particularly in the field of math and science. The main purpose of the visit was to help find measures to improve this situation by discussing with professors who educate math and science teachers at institutions such as universities in Japanese education system.
The meeting was attended by Professor Minoru Itoh of the Faculty of Science and Technology, and Dr. Tadanori Mizoguchi, Special Adviser for International Affairs. They provided the visitors with an overview of the Japanese teacher development system and education research at TUS. Then they explained that, since its establishment, TUS has fulfilled its social responsibilities as a university for educating math and science teachers, and today has established a teacher-training course, a science major program and a graduate-level major in math and science education. TUS gives particular consideration to the development of science and math teachers for junior and senior high schools, and the number of TUS graduates who are employed each year as math and science teachers in Junior and Senior High Schools is significant. The visitors showed strong interest in the distinctively Japanese teacher development system, based on the "principle of openness", in which teachers can be educated even at universities whose primary purpose is not teacher development.
The discussions also covered topics such as the current state of administrative guidance by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology relating to teacher development in Japan and the U.S. At the end of the talks, the visitors expressed their view that the visit would be a valuable reference point in considering policies for improving primary and secondary education in the U.S.
In his Annual State of the Union message to Congress on January 31, 2006, President George W. Bush announced a new science and technology strategy designed to boost standards in the field and make the United States more competitive in relation to new competitors such as China and India. The strategy includes a significant expansion of basic research, as well as training for 70,000 new science and mathematics teachers. Priority areas include nanotechnology, supercomputers and alternative energy resources. The emphasis on research and education indicates that the United States is hoping to use education and training programs to arrest the ongoing drift away from mathematics and science in recent years.