Govt to Check Classroom Hours to Cut Teachers’ Burden

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — An advisory panel for the education minister Monday proposed a plan to check classroom hours at all public elementary and junior high schools for work style reform for teachers.

The blanket research is included in a set of emergency proposals to reduce long working hours of teachers, submitted to education minister Keiko Nagaoka by the Central Council for Education.

Making teachers’ workload appropriate and reforming their work style is an “issue that must be worked on immediately,” the council said in its proposals.

“It’s not too much to say that the environment surrounding teachers is in a critical situation” as problems facing children are becoming more diverse and complex, the council also said.

Based on results of the blanket research, schools where annual lesson periods significantly exceed the standard under the school curriculum guidelines should cut the excess from the next fiscal year.

The curriculum guidelines set the standard of annual lesson periods per student at 1,015 periods. Schools where the annual lesson periods total 1,086 or more will need to reduce the number. One period lasts 45 minutes at elementary schools and 50 minutes at junior high schools.

The council called on the central government to send out a strong message to encourage efforts to reduce teachers’ workload by prefectural and municipal governments as well as schools.

Specifically, schools should stop opening gates very early in the morning to prevent students from arriving so early, the council said.