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  2. Message from the Director General

Promoting Policy Research as the Basis for Education Reform, and Publicizing the Outcomes

Yutaka Tokiwa Director General

The National Institute for Educational Policy Research (NIER) started out as the National Institute for Educational Research in 1949 as an “institute to conduct practical and basic research and studies related to education”, and celebrate its 70th anniversary this year. During this period, in 2001, as part of the reform of the government structure, our objectives and tasks were reorganized as “basic research and studies on policies related to education”, and the name of institute was changed to the National Institute for Educational Policy Research, and was relaunched as a research institute for educational policy.
 The organizational structure has since then also undergone some changes with the establishment of the Curriculum Research Center and the Guidance and Counseling Research Center, which serve as national centers for developing educational curricula and student guidance and career counseling. Thereafter, we established and enhanced the functions of the Educational Facilities Research Center and the Early Childhood Education Research Center, respectively, and the Practical Social Education Research Center.
 During this time, in January 2008, the institute were relocated to the same government building as the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), and now NIER works together with MEXT, both content-wise and physically, to prepare frameworks to carry out policy research on educational administration at large.
 Over the years, NIER has been expanding its work to cover a number of areas such as conducting research projects relating to various policy issues, as well as the “National Assessment of Academic Ability”, participating in joint international research projects such as the OECD-PISA, TALIS, PIAAC and IEA-TIMSS, and engaging in specialized and empirical research and studies on educational curricula, student guidance and careers counseling, social education, and the educational facilities, and other themes, and all of such research is being utilized as data and materials for policy planning in various fields. In particular, in the revisions of the Courses of Study, the results of various research activities conducted and engaged in our institute are used as a basis for policy formulation.
 With Japanese society undergoing a major demographic shift due to a declining birthrate and aging population, as well as the impact of globalization and rapid advancements in technological innovations, education is taking on an increasingly more urgent role in ensuring that each and every individual develops the necessary competencies to deal proactively with changes and to solve problems in the future, and to lead an abundant and full life throughout his or her lifetime, and in tandem, to sustain a vigorous society.
 We conduct a wide range of research activities in the fields of primary and secondary education, higher education and lifelong learning. Recently, based on recommendations in the Third Basic Plan for the Promotion of Education (approved by the Cabinet last June), we have just started research projects on innovation in education to respond to the development of advanced information technology, and objective, evidence-based education policy.
 In order for these ongoing education reform initiatives to be truly effective, it is essential for us to conduct research and studies, which includes the collection and analysis of various corroborative data and best practices both in Japan and other countries, and also to validate educational policies. NIER, as the only institute for educational policy research in Japan, is committed to promoting research, which may be applied in school and which will aid in policy planning, in collaboration with MEXT, the boards of education across the country, universities and other research institutions, and moreover, NIER plans to continue proactively communicating the outcomes and status of initiatives to the public as much as possible.
 Last, allow me to add that we hope you will continue to offer us your kind support.

July 2019
Director General
National Institute for Educational Policy Research, Japan
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