#2 Research Assistant

Yujiro Yamazaki

I would like to share the enjoyment of the SKY project,
which consists of a variety of approaches.


SKY[Skills and Knowledge for Youth] HOME Interview

-What is your engagement with the SKY project?

I am a research assistant. I conduct work that requires a certain level of knowledge and skills in managing the project, such as summarizing and researching papers, public relations, and writing “Hot Issues of Skills Development.”
I usually work as a doctoral student under Prof. Yamada, who is leading the SKY project.

-Please tell us about “Hot Issues of Skills Development.”

It is a series of articles that briefly explains research and expertise on “human resource development in developing countries” and “skills and knowledge.” The theme is very general, and I also link it to topics such as distance education and ICT, which are very relevant in the current time. I write the articles as if I were explaining keywords that I find in new fields of study, research journals, and websites of international organizations, which are a bit technical and difficult to understand.
Researchers’ knowledge is specialized and requires a detailed understanding of the meaning and context of even a single word. However, most people do not have enough time to learn each word in detail. Therefore, instead of asking people to read many books, I would like to send out articles to bridge specialized knowledge and interest / liberal arts. Even if some parts are not mentioned enough, the general public will find them interesting.

-Please tell us about your research theme.

In the current educational system, curriculum and learning spaces are considered from the educator’s perspective. While it is technically essential to say, “You can learn efficiently by teaching like this” or ” They will listen to what you are telling them,” I am personally interested in “learning” by creating interpretations and meanings for learners. It can be different from the educator’s intentions, or it can happen independently, with or without the educator. As such, my research looks at apprenticeships and on-the-job training, which are widely practiced in small-scale industries, taking a broad view of the education debate as a non-school-based position.

-What are some specific examples of this?

There is an image of a master-apprentice relationship, such as an apprenticeship system, where the master talks behind the back and the apprentice follows the master’s back. However, in the apprenticeship system found in African manufacturing sites, the motivation for participation is sometimes irregular. The apprentice may take a second job, move between multiple manufacturing sites, or leave the company. Rather than simply dismissing them as a lack of a sense of belonging or a lack of motivation, I would like to look at what they received in their daily lives and how they went about it. I would like to expand my thinking from the logic of the recipients of communication: “what did you receive and how did you receive it,” “why did you receive it that way,” and “how did you think about it.

-What made you choose Africa as your research subject?

Before entering graduate school, I went to Uganda on a study tour organized by an NPO that supports AIDS orphans. It was not a research project but just a visit to experience the country, and that is when I became interested in the country. It was there that I began to develop an interest in Uganda, which has led me to continue my research.

-What are the characteristics of the Africa?

In the Ugandan metalworking microenterprises that I am studying, there is a lot of imitation. I often see imitation of apprentices, which is common in apprenticeship systems where apprentices learn by watching the master’s hand and imitating product designs from other workshops. Since other workers blame these if they are ” totally copied,” they express their originality by partial imitation or slight arrangement. I am interested in the production of imagination from this kind of imitation. It is interesting to see the dynamics of the recipients, as the workers do not just copy what they see but rather incorporate their interpretation into it.
On the one hand, there is the anxiety of having one’s design imitated by others, and on the other hand, there is a sense of enjoying that instability. I would like to explore that kind of communication. I’m interested in that people are good at inserting “human connections” through communication into the market economy. Although I can’t quite put my finger on it yet, I’d like to verbalize the unique way of value formation somehow.

-What are the characteristics of this?

There are two types of exchange in society: gift exchange and equal exchange. Some people discuss “gift exchange” as an asymmetrical relationship or a personal exchange without equal value, separating it from “equal exchange” as the market economy principle. Still, in reality, I think those two are compatible in the same exchange. The principle of the market economy is based on the principle of equal exchange. Still, when a purchaser feels “indebted” to a seller or has an impression such as “he is a kind person,” that purchaser becomes a regular customer or introduces other customers. The buyer, the recipient of the service, adds value beyond the purchase price.
On the other hand, if the seller feels that the customer is a regular customer, they may offer an additional service. If it is an equal exchange, only the amount of money needs to be exchanged, but the added value is formed when the relationship of “I want to return the favor” arises. I would like to research this topic using “regulars” as a keyword.

-That’s a topic close to us too.

When we work only with the logic of market exchange, everyone does the same work, so there is a sense of “this is not the real me” and alienation from work.
I’ll try to put this in context with my own experience. Hot Issues of Skills Development” is an article that researches and summarizes a paper and corrects it in Japanese and English so that I can learn the content, writing skills, and English skills. It is an excellent opportunity to train young people, and I appreciate it very much every day. It is a perfect opportunity to train young people, and I appreciate it very much every day. However, even if I explain the work and methodology in words, it will never be conveyed in the way I feel. When the receiver sees it as “something I have to do,” it creates alienation when it takes shape as a task. I think we need to think of ways to avoid this.
The “occurrence of gift-giving within an equal exchange” may be a clue to the solution. The fuzzy processing that occurs in the process of sending and receiving through continued communication prevents alienation, and working with human relationships allows us to work “as ourselves.

-Please tell us about the SKY project.

When you look at SKY from the outside, you may perceive it as a “project to analyze skill assessment quantitatively.” Still, there are various interests and methods, such as test theory practice in Africa, knowledge of production site improvement, qualitative research, and conceptual research through behavioral understanding. I would like people to know that this is not a project to do only statistics honestly, but a project to put each researcher’s interest into practice.

-What would you like to work on in this project?

I would like to encourage more people to participate in the project. I think the project is open to finding individual interests and merits and naturally accepts originality, as long as it does not deviate from the purpose and ethics of the project, regardless of the method, such as the use of accumulated data or conceptual research. I like how things are done through such a variety of approaches, and I would like to show the value of this approach on this website.

Yujiro Yamazaki

Research Interests:
Informal sector/Africa/Apprenticeship

Doctral student, Graduate School of International Development, Nagoya University

Research History:
Doctral student, Graduate School of International Development, Nagoya University