Kumon raises funds for quake-hit colleagues in Japan

April 01, 2011 (PRLEAP.COM) Education News
April 1, 2011 - Instructors and staff at Kumon Educational UK are busy raising funds for colleagues in Japan whose lives have been devastated by the recent earthquake and tsunami. Due to continuing problems with communication it is not known exactly how many Kumon Instructors have been affected, but a number of them have lost their homes, communities, loved ones and livelihoods (Kumon centres) in the wreckage. The earthquake hit Japan on 11 March and it is estimated that more than 15,000 people lost their lives in the ensuing destruction.

Kumon was founded in Japan in the 1950s by parent and maths teacher Toru Kumon. There are now more than 4 million children in 46 countries worldwide who study with the Kumon Method, but Japan has always remained the global leader and home of the company, with 1.5 million students and almost 100% brand recognition.

Staff in the ten UK and Ireland regional offices held a dress down day on Friday 25 March, raising over £500 for Instructors in Japan. Regional and Area Managers also competed in a Numberboard Challenge on Wednesday 23 March, which contributed £455 to the appeal. There will be three more dress down Fridays in the offices in April, and many of the UK and Ireland's 639 study centres will also be holding their own fundraising events and mathathons for either Kumon Instructors or the Red Cross Japan Tsunami Appeal.

Kazu Shibata, President of Kumon Europe and Africa, was attending a World President Meeting in Osaka at the time of the earthquake. He says:

"It was a frightening experience, and we all knew that a significant event had occurred. However, we had no idea of the ensuing disaster that was to affect a large part of the North East coast of Japan: the devastating tsunami.

"It can be considered fortunate that in the areas where most devastation occurred, the number of Kumon centres is considerably lower than in areas surrounding big cities like Tokyo and Osaka. To date we have still been unable to make contact with four Instructors in the affected areas, but we are hoping that that they will be found safe and well. Meanwhile our thoughts and prayers are with their families and loved ones, as well, of course, as our missing students.

"In every situation, even the most dire and dark, we must think of the children and how we can continue to develop them and help them to remain positive, despite difficult circumstances. This is the very definition of building "fine character," both in them and in ourselves, and allows us to contribute to something immensely positive. Toru Kumon once wrote,
"I can say with confidence that the Kumon Method develops student's academic abilities as well as their fine character. Character includes qualities such as compassion and consideration toward others, and the ability to think more deeply about how they can contribute to society."

"For those Instructors who have survived the devastation, life will never be quite the same. They face immediate tangible difficulties such as finding safe food and water and somewhere to sleep, but in the long term they face rebuilding their lives with little or nothing of the possessions or other support they previously received.

"I have been overwhelmed by messages of kindness over recent days, and would like to express my sincere gratitude for these. Like many other Japanese people in Kumon and beyond, I take great comfort in knowing that we have support at this difficult time."