The Riyadh Japanese School is a long-established Japanese curriculum school located in the northern residential area of the city.
The Riyadh Japanese School is probably the smallest international school in the city, but an enduring outpost for Japanese education. The school was first proposed in 1978 at the 1st General Meeting of the Japanese Association, and the Riyadh Japanese School Management Committee was established in 1985. Akira Muto (Marubeni) was the first chairman of the Riyadh Japanese School; the school was founded in September of that year.
The school opened its Elementary school and Junior high section in its first year of operation with a total of 22 students and by 1986 the Elementary school had grown to 23 students, whilst the Junior high school numbered three. Although it seems that the management of the school was keen to see it grow substantially - with the goal of opening classes through to Senior High - by 1987 the school had had its highest number of students in its history - with 37 (34 students in the Elementary School and three students in the Junior High section) on its roll.
Since that time, student enrolment has fluctuated from a high of around 30 students to a low of 8 in 2021 and 10 students as at May 2022. These students are supported by six teachers plus the Principal, Masaharu Nishiyama, who also teaches Calligraphy.
The school’s goal is to "nurture students who are well-balanced and rich in humanity, children and students who are willing to learn, caring and tenacious."
Students are taught Arabic and English in addition to the Japanese curriculum. Such are the challenges of obtaining suitable resources for students that parents are advised to source materials, books and other supplies prior to leaving Japan.
In addition to the academic curriculum, students enjoy a range of sports activities including table tennis, soccer, the horizontal bar or play ball, and tag and also participate in excursions with the Kingdom.
The school is located in a villa complex. In April 2018, the school moved to the Córdoba compound. Three villas have been refurbished to complete a school building. Facilities include a hall for assemblies and sports activities, a library with over 3,000 books, a home economics room where Senior and junior high school students would (should the school enroll any) be able to practice cooking, a Science room, where students from Grade 3 and above can study science using laboratory equipment brought in from Japan.
Students also have access to the compound Recreation Center which is a 3-minute walk from the school building. It also has soccer and a basketball courts, together with access to a gymnasium, tennis court and swimming pool. From May to July, students learn swimming as part of physical education. Finally, there is a large playground next to the recreation centre.
Clearly the Riyadh Japanese School is a small outpost of the home country where Japanese families relocating to the city have the opportunity to place their children in the 'home' system. Whilst at the time of its foundation, nearly 40 years ago, there was obvious expectation of high demand from families relocating to Riyadh, for reasons that are not clear, that demand has not presented itself. However, for the small number of students who continue to attend the school, with a teacher:student of 1:3, they must be amongst the most highly supported students in the city.
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