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Over-Worked Schoolteachers

Friday, June 15, 2007 Posted: 02:21 PM JST

On May 23, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology published the results of a survey of the working conditions of schoolteachers at public elementary, lower secondary, and upper secondary schools. Long vacations, easy work, right? Well..., the results were quite surprising, with lots of schoolteachers working 11 hours a day or more. Many even work 8 hours or more during school vacations.

The survey, conducted between July and December 2006, was the first in 40 years, and was aimed at 46,045 schoolteachers at 2,160 randomly extracted elementary and lower secondary schools. Effective answers were returned by 36,300 schoolteachers from 1,973 schools. The high-school survey was carried out between October and December, and was aimed at 19,584 schoolteachers at 360 high schools, from which effective replies were received from 15,305 schoolteachers from 300 schools. (The valid rates were above 80 percent in both cases.)

The longest average working hours were found to be among lower secondary schoolteachers: 10 hours 36 minutes per day, with 1 hour and 56 minutes of overtime work. However, the average lower secondary schoolteacher works 11 hours and 2 minutes, with 2 hours and 13 minutes of overtime work per day except for August when schools are on summer holidays. Schoolteachers at elementary schools work an average of 10 hours and 30 minutes, with 1 hour and 40 minutes of overtime work every day except for August, and those at high schools work 10 hours and 2 minutes, with 1 hour and 44 minutes of overtime work.

Where assignments which oblige them to work overtime are concerned, the schoolteachers surveyed cited preparations for classes; guidance for pupils and students, including school events and club activities (schoolteachers at elementary schools excluded); meetings and preliminary discussions; report writing; and participation in teacher-training programs. The average resting period is fairly short, eight minutes per day, while a few take their work home. The survey also found that approximately half of the schoolteachers surveyed took 10 days or less of paid holidays in a year. It is the vice-principals who work the longest hours across all levels, by one hour or more than ordinary schoolteachers.

Furthermore, both elementary and lower secondary schoolteachers surprisingly work eight hours or more even during the summer vacation. One often misunderstands, and envies them instead for having long spring and summer holidays like children. While busy with their daily workload, schoolteachers are also obliged to deal with parents who may often be dissatisfied with their children's progress reports, even when appraisal criteria have been revised to follow the absolute evaluation system that is applied to individual aspects of pupils' performance. Although there have been moves to apply the evaluation-based payment system to school teachers in recent years, it is quite uncertain if such a system could be applicable to them under such circumstances.

Source: The Japan Institute for Labour Policy and Training

Keywords: national_news

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