The city includes children in virtual spaces where they can explore virtual campuses and attend classes online, while preparing to eventually rejoin regular classes again.
Toda City Is Battling Absenteeism With Metaverse Tools
The metaverse is beginning to be harnessed as part of educational and therapeutic processes. Toda City, in Japan, is currently fighting the problem of school absenteeism by using metaverse-based tools. The children, who are said to present school attendance problems, are using a tool created by a nonprofit last year with the idea of letting children roam around in a virtual world.
This digital world allows the children to explore a virtual campus and attend virtual classes, letting them prepare to begin attending regular classes again. At least this is what city officials hope, having also proposed to count these metaverse classes as regular time in school if the principal approves.
A fifth grader with almost 2 years declared that it is easier to relate and chat with others online than in the real world. Sugimori Masayuki, head of the city’s education center, hopes that children in this program will be able to live independently at some point.
School absenteeism is becoming a big problem in Japan. A recent survey made by the education ministry in Japan found that 244,940 students were absent for 30 days or more from schools in 2021. Officials state that this might be related to the Covid-19 pandemic and how it influenced the way in which children relate with others.
The environment created by Covid-19 measures has also been cited by Japanese media as a possible reason for record student suicides in 2020.
Virtual Worlds and Education
Various educational institutions from several areas have embraced the metaverse as a tool for education. In July, the University of Tokyo announced that it will start offering a series of engineering courses in the metaverse later this year. In China, the University of Nanjing is preparing to set up one of the first metaverse majors in the country, to train workers who will ostensibly then be able to take metaverse-related jobs.
In September, ten universities in the U.S. announced they were already creating their digital campuses with cooperation from Meta, as part of its $150 million immersive learning project. In the same way, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology also reported in July about the creation of a metaverse campus to reach students that are unable to attend regular classes.