About IDCE

The Birth of IDCE

In 1983, at the dawn of the PC era, KCG ordered 3,000 8-bit PCs from Toshiba Corporation to install in each dormitory room and to lend out, free of charge, to its students – the first attempt of its kind in the world, according to the WashingtonDC media. However, merely three years later, PCs entered the 16-bit era. Despite the fact that 8-bit PCs were still usable for educational purposes, most students didn’t want them anymore. So when KCG purchased 16-bit computers, the 8-bit computers were sent to storage, but Yasuko and Shigeo Hasegawa hoped to make use of them somehow.

As is well known, the development of PCs in the early 1980s caused a revolution, drastically changing the trend that had so far aimed to get bigger and higher-power computers. The advent of PCs heralded the advent of computer democracy. Yasuko and Shigeo expected that computers as a culture would penetrate people’s daily lives and that computer literacy would be required as an essential cornerstone of education. To this end, they thought, the stored computers could contribute somehow.

At that time, computer literacy education was not yet widespread in Japan. Computers were installed in very few high schools. Yasuko and Shigeo contacted a few high schools in Kyoto and offered to donate the computers. First, the school officials were very pleased:  “What a wonderful offer!” However, within a week or so, they would all decline their offer because "there were no teachers who could teach a computer class." Yasuko and Shigeo offered to send KCG instructors as volunteers, but every school declined to accept. It turned out that there was a different reason: they decided that the purpose of Yasuko’s and Shigeo’s offer was to advertise KCG so that KCG would get more students. Because KCG was a “special technical school,” and despite its non-profit status, public high schools didn’t trust the good will of KCG’s founders, and thus lost the opportunity to have computers in their schools.

Even though “special technical schools” such as KCG are school juridical organizations (categorized as “Gakko-ho-jin” which are non-commercial, non-profit organizations), there are very strong prejudices against those schools in the Japanese society at large. Many people don’t know the difference between “NON-profit special technical schools (“sen-SHU gakkou”)” such as KCG, and “FOR-profit special technical schools (“sen-MON gakkou”).” Neither class of schools is under the umbrella of the Ministry of Education.

Despite the prejudice against “special technical schools,” Yasuko and Shigeo Hasegawa estabilished KCG as a special technical school because of their clear goal: to be free in the creation of a school of their dreams. Without any restrictions from the Ministry of Education, they could freely plan its curriculum, freely purchase educational tools (computers), and freely choose the way of teaching. More over, they didn't have to wait for any approval from anyone; they could apply their curriculum or any changes they made right there, on the very day.

Computers were so new to Japan; there were no computer textbooks in Japanese at that time. In such a time, it was essential for them to have the complete freedom in order to start the computer school. The only disadvantage was that, as a result, there was no financial support from the Ministry of Eduation, but they didn't mind.

There was one more reason that made it worth: because of the freedom, they could offer free admissions to those students who couldn’t afford otherwise. Free admission to the young people in need was a long-term goal of Shigeo’s, as he himself could not afford to go to graduate school. So they often accepted needy students with big passion to learn, for free.

Since its establishment in 1963, KCG has often been mistakenly believed to be a profit-making institution, and it hasn't changed much even now even if KCG is far from doing business for profit; its founders have preached and acted in concert with the school’s social responsibilities as a pioneer of computer education in Japan.

In November, 1985, Yasuko attended the conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota, called, "Computer Technology for Handicapped." There, Yasuko was astonished by the way computers helped the people with disabilities. She thought that the handicapped could develop their abilities and their business by utilizing PCs because PCs had such an advantage that people can work using PCs in their free time at home.  At the same time, she remembers being disappointed to find no presenters from Japan at the conference, even though Japan by then was approaching ahead of the world in the filed of computer hardwares. (Actually she didn't see any Asian person there.)


Yasuko and Shigeo decided to visit a center for people with disabilities in Japan.
At the center, they offered to donate the computers and to send KCG instructors as volunteers. The official listened to them in silence first. When they finished explaining what could be done, however, to their astonishment, this official shouted at them, saying “Don’t exploit the handicapped for your school’s advertisement!”

Again, just because of the fact KCG was a specialized school, the official misunderstood the intension of Yasuko and Shigeo, thus lost the opportunity to have computers at his school. After that, Yasuko and Shigeo gave up the utilization of 3,000 8-bit computers. Then, in July, 1986, Shigeo Hasegawa unexpectedly passed away. The computers stayed in the KCG’s storage in silence.

In the fall 1988, Yu Hasegawa, the daughter of Yasuko and Shigeo, (whose name "Yu" means "Freedom,") was an undergraduate student at MIT and was taking a course on the exploitation of women’s labor. She had been active in human rights, espeically in women's rights, ever since she was in high school. Going to America to study was as a result of the strong sexism still existed in Japan. At that time, Yu was doing research on various issues associated with forced labor, including prostitution in Asian countries.

“ I always believed that most of the women were kidnapped and forced into prostitution, and I wanted to find a way to rescue them. But when I met a former prostitute in Thailand and was yelled at, I realized of the needs for something more. She yelled at me and said, ‘People like pianist and typists use their fingers to make a living; we use our whole body to make a living. What’s wrong with that?’  She angrily continued, ‘ Don’t look down on us; don’t use us for your ‘scholastic researches’ -- That is called exploitation of women! It was my choice; I chose to do it!’

“'Choice,' she said, what choice? How many choices did she have? What kind of choices did she have? - Did these women really have choices like the ones we have? - No.  Perhaps, they had a choice of either starving or working as a prostitute, but that is not called a choice. - Then, what would it be that would give those women true choices? – Education!”

So, with the strong will to participate in the education to help people, Yu called her mother, who was in Japan at that time. She expressed her wishes to be a part of the force that would bring those women in Asia opportunities for education, thus for more choices in life. That is when Yu learned about the computers being stored in the storage for many years. "This is it!" she thought, and told Yasuko of the possibility of using them for the 'donation of education.'

Neither donating computers overseas nor spreading computer education internationally had been on Yasuko’s mind, but it didn’t take time for her to visualize how those old computers could be useful outside Japan. Yasuko agreed with Yu and they discussed, “How do we combine donation with free instruction? Computers without instruction could be useless.” "How do we plan so that the education will spread at its best?" Excited, the two talked and talked that day, exploring their ideas and planning how to do it, thus, the collaboration between a mother and her daughter began.

After naming it IDCE (International Development of Computer Education), Yu visited Chulalongkorn University for 2+ months to invest and establish the method for implementing IDCE in Thailand. Yasuko stayed in Japan to find funds for the shipment of computers and the cost of seminars.

The following year in 1989, Yasuko and Yu secured a partial fund from the Japan Exposition Commemoration Fund Project, and with the shipment of the first donation to Thailand, Yasuko’s sons (Yu's brothers), Wataru and Akira Hasegawa joined; together, they made IDCE an official non-profit organization supported by KCG. çç

Read newspaper articles on the founding of IDCE:

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