Japan to Provide Metaverse Classes to Curb Absenteeism

Credit: Getty Images

A new government agency in Japan dedicated to child and family affairs will be launched in April, and one of the measures it’s considering to fight high absenteeism among Japanese school children is the use of metaverse spaces.

Since the pandemic, Japan has had issues with children refusing to go to school. To address the problem, the Japanese government and a Tokyo-based non-profit organization called Katariba are offering classes in the metaverse.

Room-K has several aims, including investigating what environments students feel comfortable in, helping kids gain a sense of belonging, acquiring social skills, focusing on studying, and fostering relationship and trust between students and counselors and teachers. It also aims to be a springboard to return kids to their schools.

So far about 110 elementary and junior high school students from Tokyo and Hiroshima are participating. The classes in room-K last 45 minutes and include reading, programming, Japanese, and other subjects that students can select. Kids can also choose avatars based on heroes and princesses, and chat with other children via video calls.

Room-K was launched shortly after Japan closed schools due to the Coronavirus outbreak. So far, about 10% of the students that participated in the program returned to school this year.

Tomotaka Segawa, leader of room-K, said that the goal of metaverse project is to provide a space where children can learn, and to “increase the options for municipalities seeking to support nonattending children.” In some schools, such as Saitama Prefecture in the city of Toda, schools can use room-K participation to substitute for attendance at their real-life schools.

In March 2022, Japan saw a record high of nearly 245,000 non-attending children nationwide. While some areas have created education support centers for students, they have seen limited success. Room-K and the Japanese government hope to reverse the trend.

Metaverse Education is on the Rise

Room-K isn’t the only company using the metaverse for educational purposes. At Rarity Sniper, we’ve written dozens of articles about education in the metaverse. Here are three of the biggest headlines.

First, also in Japan, The University of Tokyo announced it was offering metaverse courses for engineering students. The courses are geared towards middle, high school, and university students, as well as adults considering switching careers. It will consist of in-person classes as well as classes in the metaverse.

Next, The Aresty Institute of Executive Education at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania launched an online course called “Business in the Metaverse Economy.” The course, launched in collaboration with the Prysm Group, was geared towards tech and business professional who want to learn more about the metaverse and related technologies.

Finally, about a month ago, Morehouse College partnered with virtual reality company VictoryXR to launch a Black history course in the metaverse. Students will use VR headsets to experience Black history “firsthand,” having the chance to visit historical sites and moments like MLK’s “I have a Dream” speech, the Underground Railroad, and more.

The metaverse is proving to be an increasingly important space in education. We’ll have to wait to see if Room-K and the Japanese government will be successful in their fight against low school attendance throughout the country. If so, we expect metaverse education in the island country will be expanded.