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    The school principal welcomes Pepper

    Educating Pepper: Japanese Robot Celebrates First Day at School

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    Pepper the robot enrolled for school in Japan in a ceremony attended by 120 schoolchildren and televised by Japanese national broadcaster NHK.

    A robot called Pepper has been welcomed to a school in Japan by students and teachers enthusiastic about his capacity to help humans with their learning.

    On Wednesday the headteacher of Shoshi High School in Waseda, Fukushima Prefecture, welcomed Pepper, explaining that "the future for society includes robots."

    A proud Pepper promised to do his best at the school, and confessed that he "never expected to be admitted to a human school."

    Yesuke Komatsu, a teacher at the school, told Sputnik that the teachers decided to enroll a robot at their school in the hope that Pepper will help other pupils.

    Robot Pepper is introduced to students
    Robot Pepper is introduced to students

    "To begin with we thought about how our schoolchildren would enjoy socializing with a robot. Pepper the robot has an artificial intellect and is able to communicate. He can become the students' friend, they can talk to each other, search for things on the internet together," Komatsu said.

    By saving photographs Pepper is able to recognize faces, and can also remember names.

    "When Pepper saves all the photographs of all the children, he will be able to call each of them by name," she explained.

    As an English teacher, Komatsu believes the robot will be particularly useful to her pupils.

    "Pepper knows English, and I am thinking about using him during English lessons to demonstrate pronunciation. At the moment, I can't think of any negatives" to having a robot at the school, she said.

    "Pepper could say some words, or read texts – which he does better than I do – and I think that would delight the pupils. But best of all would be if my pupils communicated with Pepper in English."

    "We are a special school, where pupils can take part in distance study, and some of them find it hard to communicate. But these kinds of pupils will talk with a robot as they would with a person," she explained.

    Komatsu said that having a robot in school is another useful step for a society already familiar with robots in many aspects of life. 

    In this photo taken Sunday, July 12, 2015, children at a store in Tokyo try to talk with Pepper
    © AP Photo / Shizuo Kambayashi
    In this photo taken Sunday, July 12, 2015, children at a store in Tokyo try to talk with Pepper
    For example, the Roomba robot vacuum cleaner is a fixture in almost every home, and the Paro interactive therapeutic robot, which looks like a baby harp seal, is used in a lot of old people's homes. 

    "Robots are machines, and they are known to be widely used in factories or to carry out particular tasks, but socializing with them is still difficult. We are trying to give our students the chance of communicating with a robot," Komatsu said.

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