The Footprints of Aso

Aso Juku Educational Foundation

THE FOOTPRINTS OF ASO - WITHIN THE LOCAL COMMUNITY

Aso Juku Educational Foundation

Today, a majority of students continue on to high school once they complete their compulsory educations. The percentage of students proceeding to high school surpassed 90% in 1974 (Showa 49) and that figure rose to over 97% in 2007 (Heisei 19). However, when the Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture (the current Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) started recording statistics back in 1950 (Showa 25), the percentage of students continuing on to high school was only 42.5%, and there was a huge gap between students in the city and in the countryside.

Even in the Chikuho region, which was prosperous as a coal mining town, there were many talented individuals who were not able to go to high school during the early Showa era due to financial reasons. The group's second president Takakichi Aso established Aso Juku, a small scale boarding school, in 1939 (Showa 14). Takakichi studied at a private school for a small number of outstanding students called "Shido Juku" taught by Mikio Kawamura, a professor at the school of engineering at Kyushu University. Takakichi applied the exact same educational philosophy of Mikio Kawamura, which was to cultivate the expert's way and the expert's mind, to the spirit of Aso Juku.

The school was for graduates of higher elementary school and the length of study was three years. Because Aso Juku provided all materials required for schooling such as textbooks, student candidates flooded from inside and outside the Fukuoka prefecture. Also, even though it was the height of the coal mining business and there was a labor shortage, students were not required to work for Aso Shoten Co., Ltd. (the company at the time) after graduating. Although most graduates worked for Aso Shoten Co., Ltd. or coal mines in the Chikuho region, Aso Juku allowed graduates to proceed to higher education, and some went on to university to study humanities and become professors themselves.

As part of the reform of the education system following World War II, Aso Juku was changed to Aso Juku Kogyo High School in 1948 (Showa 23) and programs for the study of mineral extraction, machinery, and industrial chemistry were established. However, while the percentage of student advancing to high school continued to grow rapidly, the coal mining industry slowly entered a decline. Although the spirit to learn was maintained, in 1982 (Showa 57) after the last coal mine in the Chikuho region closed, Aso Juku, which had completed its mission, closed as well. The 555 students who graduated from Aso Juku have been successful in various arenas. Also, in 1947 (Showa 22), an elementary school for children who lived near the coal mines was created next to Aso Juku, and 325 students graduated before its closing in 1972 (Showa 47).

Currently, two stone monument stands at the site of Aso Juku in Iizuka. One monument is inscribed with the school motto "Selflessness" written by Shigeru Yoshida, Takakichi's father-in-law, and a second stone monument is inscribed with the words "The birth place of Aso Juku" written by Zenko Suzuki, Taro's father-in-law. Also, the schools educational philosophy of cultivating great individuals has been handed down to the Aso Juku Educational Foundation, which today owns twelve vocational schools in Fukuoka prefecture.

Aso Juku site
Address:
Kashiwa no Mori 11-4, Iizuka-shi
Free admission
Aso Juku Educational Foundation
http://www.asojuku.ac.jp/

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