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Public schools in Japan short of over 2,500 teachers last year

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Asked about the shortage of teachers, 53 education boards cited that the number of teachers taking maternity or paternity leave was more than expected, while 49 boards said the number of people on sick leave had increased.

I have heard from multiple principals and teachers at public schools that the problem stems from generous mental health coverage that allows teachers to claim burnout but still collect 60% of their annual wage until retirement, from which time they receive a generous pension. Since many of these teachers are in their 40s when claiming burnout, perhaps we would benefit from a plan to encourage them to recover or retool for another profession and thus help prevent them from being a multi-decade unproductive drain on the budget.

-4 ( +19 / -23 )

Very difficult to sell this job to young people when they know all their overtime is “service” and it’s expected for them to work until late at night, so club activities they don’t know how to do, work weekends with club practice and practice games and dealing with all the other nonsense in a school. It really is one of the toughest jobs here in this country.

43 ( +51 / -8 )

Heavy work load? I doubt my son’s junior high school teacher puts in much over 70 hours a week. Plus the pure joy of spending your days with 13-15 year olds. Throw in the low pay- I can’t see why the young folks aren’t lining up for this trifecta?

31 ( +43 / -12 )

Well, let’s face it, being a public school teacher in Japan is a nightmare job. I’ve always called them, zoo keepers.

34 ( +44 / -10 )

Public schools in Japan were short of more than 2,500 teachers at the start of the school year last April

Politician want people to have more child

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/05/30/national/politics-diplomacy/give-birth-least-three-kids-japan-ex-minister-fire-linking-single-women-low-birthrate/

but they just don't want to provide sufficient teacher for school and child care facilities

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/japan-daycare-birth-rate-mothers-childcare-education-family-a8952276.html

23 ( +30 / -7 )

Asiaman, did you ever stop to think why are all these teachers suffering burn-out. Do you think they became teachers just so they could at age 40 claim stress and then retire on a 60% pension?

These people are overworked, underpaid and harassed and bullied on all sides. Either from senior colleagues, to parents, and even sometimes from students, if they work at a junior high or high school.

I commend anyone who does the job, but I told my two children not to think of teaching as a career, as I know first hand what a terrible job it can be!

25 ( +33 / -8 )

Easy solution, let qualified non Japanese do the job!

Oh wait I forgot under the law no government entity can hire a non Japanese as a full time employee.

I actually know a few people that are fully educated in Japan are qualified as teachers but work as contrasted teachers in private schools, they would jump at the chance to be full time public school teachers but being non citizens this is no a possibility.

19 ( +32 / -13 )

I read an article here on JT a couple years back that said that the people who suffer most Karoshi deaths are the school teachers

Heavy work load? I doubt my son’s junior high school teacher puts in much over 70 hours a week. Plus the pure joy of spending your days with 13-15 year olds. Throw in the low pay- I can’t see why the young folks aren’t lining up for this trifecta?

Brilliantly said.

I actually know a few people that are fully educated in Japan are qualified as teachers but work as contrasted teachers in private schools, they would jump at the chance to be full time public school teachers but being non citizens this is no a possibility.

so do I

19 ( +29 / -10 )

My friends husband is married to a JH Teacher and is developing mental problems as Parents in Japan call the Teacher after hours to talk about their child. If we could just go back to when Teachers were respected rather than Monster Parents running the system. Because society has become weak and the fact Customer is King. I would never recommend anyone to be a Teacher unless they are made of steel and have serious desire to overcome.

Teaching isn’t what it used to be and the wages are like working any regular job at this point, especially JH students!!

22 ( +31 / -9 )

The report does not point out that these vacancies are NOT in urban areas. For example the number in Tokyo is actually zero. Its difficult finding teachers to work out in the sticks.

-3 ( +10 / -13 )

These teachers work like slaves. Which means teachers aren't motivated to run creative classes. Which means students don't develop lateral thinking. No future entrepreneurs, leaders and innovative products can come out of this neglected system.

12 ( +22 / -10 )

The shortage stems from a growing number of young people shying away from teaching jobs due to the heavy workload, among other factors.

The shortage and an increase in their duties are wearing out the teachers.

"The government needs to take drastic measures such as raising their wages as it is getting more and more difficult to attract good talent and thus leads to a decline in the quality of education,"

in other words, unnecessary excessive work, no job security and low pay.

yes, I’m sure people are lining up for days to get into teaching.

on top of that you’re “forbidden” to take other means of income, part time jobs or otherwise. GTFO

> It was the first time that the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology had conducted a nationwide survey on the shortage.

did they REALLY need to take a survey about this?

i mean it’s not like it’ll change anything anyways.

it’s sad when corrupt politicians make hundreds of millions of yen, doing nothing but being crooks, while teachers are working their lives off for scraps.

and they wonder why there’s a shortage of teachers……

14 ( +23 / -9 )

More direct hire and pay rises for ALTs and NTs at schools would be much appreciated too Mr Kishida-the more you pay us the more tax you’ll get, the more we’ll spend. It’s better to do that than aimlessly printing money and buying bonds..

15 ( +22 / -7 )

I live near a high school, and it's nearly always filled with huge crowds of kids and teachers outside of classroom hours. Endless extra curricular sports and clubs, and the sight of kids in uniforms in the area is standard during weekends and holidays.

My Canadian high school was nothing like this. When the bell rang, 90 percent of us would go home and then the janitors would lock the doors at 5:30 p.m. How about giving the Japanese teachers and kids a break, allowing them to rest, spend time with families or engage in activities outside the campus? The system seems very oppressive.

28 ( +36 / -8 )

The number of graduates wanting to enter the teaching profession has dropped, those wanting to work outside urban areas has dropped like a stone. As I said and was reported on NHK yesterday, Tokyo had zero positions it was unable to fill. Teaching has become a 7 day a week, no holiday job. Drop the stupid club activities and give the students and teachers the weekend off.

10 ( +18 / -8 )

Does anyone remember the education ministry creating a site where teachers could talk about how great the job was only to have to become a litany of horror stories. The stand out to me was a 40 year old veteran teacher who said “I’ve waisted my life”

And weren’t they going to ease the burden by getting outside people to take over weekend club activities? What happened to that idea?

19 ( +26 / -7 )

Someone pointed out that the vacancies are outside Tokyo and other major cities.

Yes possibly but even then if a teacher out of work in Tokyo wants to take a job in countryside Saitama, well they cannot unless they take the teacher qualification exam for that prefecture.

I know a teach was working in Chiba but had to move back to the other side of Saitama to help care for his elderly parents.

Asked why he didn't just get a job locally in Saitama, he said at 45 trying to pass the prefecture exam was to much trouble.

12 ( +18 / -6 )

Maybe if they didn't pay them what amounts to an hourly wage of peanuts, they might be able to hire and retain more staff.

10 ( +19 / -9 )

I don't know why you all think the pay is poor for Japanese teachers. When they start in their twenties it's not so good, but it rises with their age. You have to factor in bonuses. Then they get a massive lump sum at retirement. But they work for it.

-8 ( +8 / -16 )

What kinds of mental issues are we talking here? Some examples, please.

-12 ( +1 / -13 )

Maybe Kishida and some of those others in government should work at public schools (and not in the well off communities) for a few months. Let's see how they turn out.

4 ( +10 / -6 )

I don't know why you all think the pay is poor for Japanese teachers.

If you base the salary on a 40-hour week, then it seems decent. But no teacher in Japan works 40 hours. Hence the "peanuts" reference earlier.

4 ( +13 / -9 )

zichi......

A 60 year old teacher in public school could be getting ¥850,000 per month before deductions. Pension benefits are pretty decent too.

-8 ( +4 / -12 )

The ministry's figures for 2016 were that the average high school teacher earned a total of 6.28 million yen, with an average age of 45.6 years. The pay seems generous to me.

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

Japanese population needs to re-assess what they expect from their teachers. Most treat them as a babysitting service, someone who will look after their children for long hours for nothing whilst they are slogging away sleeping at their desks pretending to work. No weekends, early starts and late finishes all outwith their contracted times and expected to suck it up and gaman because they are teachers. I asked one of my Japanese colleagues why there was no teachers union, she said there was....the rep is that guy....when I asked why you don't get the union to put a stop to the saturday work or unpaid overtime, she said that if they complained then maybe they would be made to come in every day in summer (although most already do this).....I said that you don't know what a union is, what it can do and the power you hold. This is typical of working culture here, no one is happy but no one will rock the boat. Get out on strike and get the conditions you are at least contracted for.

2 ( +9 / -7 )

"....The ministry's figures for 2016 were that the average high school teacher earned a total of 6.28 million yen, with an average age of 45.6 years. The pay seems generous to me...."

sure....for a Monday to Friday, 8:30 to 4:30pm it is a generous salary.....but teachers are often at school until 7 or 8pm. Then if they are homeroom teachers, they are expected to be at the beck and call of parents at all times of the day. I've heard too many stories of irate parents complaining to school after the homeroom teacher didn't take their call at 10pm at night!! Then add on any club activity, of which they are assigned and have no choice. Most of these clubs run everyday and then have activities on Saturdays and sometimes Sundays as well. My last school's tennis club did this and they would palm the club off on the new intake of teachers, the senior guy assigning the new teachers to BOTH days. Teachers are people too, they are not there to babysit children. Their job is teaching them and teaching happens in classes from around 8:45 to 3pm......after that it's the parents who should teach their children the social skills needed for society. They also have their own families, they have to give up seeing THEIR children's various school activities and graduation ceremonies........on top of all this the sempai-kohai system is abused by the older teachers to layer work on the young noob teachers just out of University. One of the main perks of being a teacher is getting the long summer holidays, but even that here is curtailed. Most teachers actually going in to school every day. There is no way I'd be a teacher here if I didn't get the long holidays.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

This is typical of working culture here, no one is happy but no one will rock the boat. Get out on strike and get the conditions you are at least contracted for.

I was working at a customer's site the other month for a few weeks, and I saw a pamphlet from their "union". The purpose of the pamphlet was just to tell the members whom to vote for in the upcoming election. I asked one of my coworkers what else this union does. He had no idea, but he continues to pay in each month because his boss told him to. It is all a huge scam, but due to the education system here, nobody has the ability to weigh up pros/cons and make a decision by themselves.

3 ( +11 / -8 )

It seems to me that the answer would be to radically restructure the sytem. A lot more teachers, a huge reduction in hours worked, pay reductions. Not going to happen immediately ...

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Sheikh Yerboaby.....

"....The ministry's figures for 2016 were that the average high school teacher earned a total of 6.28 million yen, with an average age of 45.6 years. The pay seems generous to me...."

Yes, that seems about right for the "average" salary.

As I pointed out earlier that at age 60 with many years experience some teachers, with bonuses, will be getting ¥850,000+ a month. Salary is dependent on age, qualifications and service time. NOT ability.

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

The ministry's figures for 2016 were that the average high school teacher earned a total of 6.28 million yen, with an average age of 45.6 years. The pay seems generous to me.

My friend's wife is a Tokyo public school Jr, high teacher in that age bracket and doesn earn anywhere near that and even if she did we calculated she spends over 60 hours a week doing school related work at ¥6.28 million that would still be only around ¥2,000 an hour.

But again she doesn't make anywhere near that.

Her husband, a man from Ireland works in a sandwich making facility that makes sandwiches for convenience stores. He makes ¥2,250 an hour, does his 40 hours a week and no work to bring home, no unpaid overtime, no real stress, no parents of rotten children to deal with.

0 ( +10 / -10 )

Antiquesaving...

My friend's wife is a Tokyo public school Jr, high teacher in that age bracket and doesn earn anywhere near that

The key word being..."AVERAGE".... some more , and some, like your friend's wife, less.

And ¥2,250 an hour for making sandwiches is way too much!

-3 ( +7 / -10 )

I do not want to buy a sandwich from any combini using a food company that pays its workers 2,250 Yen/hour.

-9 ( +6 / -15 )

Teaching is a thankless job all around the world but in Japan, it seems like an absolute nightmare. Teachers are underpaid, overworked, forced to attend and oversee a myriad of activities not related to their job description...it's no wonder there's a shortage. Nobody wants to do a job that guarantees burnout and a deterioration of their mental and physical health.

3 ( +12 / -9 )

Purple dressed....

You are forgetting...

Those who can.. Do.

Those who can't.... Teach.

And those who can't teach..... Teach gym!

But seriously, I've spent quite a few years in Japanese schools and can safely say that some teachers are excellent, some good, some bad and some are a mystery why they ever chose that profession.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Japanese teachers depending on the school and age can get paid quite a lot. Even at the middle school and elementary school level, the salary can be equivalent or more than foreign university professors working in Japan.

There pension and insurance system is a way lot better than most foreigners not on an expat contract.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

Her husband, a man from Ireland works in a sandwich making facility that makes sandwiches for convenience stores. He makes ¥2,250 an hour, does his 40 hours a week and no work to bring home, no unpaid overtime, no real stress, no parents of rotten children to deal with.

This is the argument for high paying trade skilled jobs.

Highly skilled and qualified educators should be paid on par with doctors and lawyers.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Asiaman7

As a Japanese who works in Education, I completely disagree with your analysis.

Its certainly not that most teachers are abusing the system and faking mental illness as you suggest, that is the root cause of the crisis (a teacher shortage in the thousands).

What a ridiculous way to see it.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

My daughter's year has two English teachers MIA.Class lessons are self study now.One in her 20s,cuz her mom died and not wanting to work. And a 40s man feeling depressed.Come on!

A friend's husband is Japanese and is employed at a Japanese high school. I say employed because he has not worked for almost 4 years. He took time off for stress with full pay, and he cannot be fired because contracts for Japanese teachers are solid. His salary is in the 800,000 range. He is in no hurry to get back. He keeps in contact.

I am not taking anything away from my friend's husband and his situation, nor do I believe his pay should be reduced. I just want to show that some Japanese teachers are getting paid quite well.

Even though there are people who can sometime game the system, I think qualified and highly skilled instructors should get paid well across the board considering the time committed, the importance of the job and the impact they have over an entire society.

First, they need to train teachers better!

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

There are changes being made to the workload of teachers. Some schools do not have classes on Saturday. Some schools are limiting the hours that clubs can meet after school. Some schools are even forcing teachers who do have clubs on the weekends to take a mandatory day off during the week as well.

It's hard, though, because there has always been this pressure in Japanese culture to work long hours. Even if nothing is getting done, the appearance is necessary or some people will think your lazy. So for these changes to take place, it has required those in "power" positions to mandate these changes. I work in a private high school, so I have seen these changes happening. Good stuff, but more needs to be done.

It's my opinion, that the main thing that needs change are all of the unnecessary meetings. I can usually read through what I need to know in 30 minutes, but someone is still expected to read through the documents, as if we cannot read it for ourselves.

Also, it wouldn't hurt to hold parents accountable for the actions of their kids when they are not in uniform and not at school. Why teachers should be responsible for students 24/7 is an outdated practice.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Has anyone mentioned transfers? This is often an onerous problems for teachers, particularly those with families with children. This is one way the Board of Education has for getting at activists. Protest corruption or discrimination in the system and you find yourself transferred to a remote island for years.

Principal bullying is always present--and backed up . My wife was a high school teacher in Inaka. When this principal made an inappropriate remark about our international marriage she first called the Japan Teachers' Union, who said 60% was the principal's fault and 40% was her fault. (So much for the so-called radical JTU). I and another professor finally got this principal to apologize, but that is a long story.)

When my wife became a professor we left Inaka. The celebrate we went to Paris.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

The salary range is ¥250,000 to ¥600,000 per month.

Are you sure about that? I've seen the range go as low as 200,000 yen.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

"....The ministry's figures for 2016 were that the average high school teacher earned a total of 6.28 million yen, with an average age of 45.6 years. The pay seems generous to me...."

Yes, that seems about right for the "average" salary.

Average? Not here in Japan. You must be thinking of another country like Saudi Arabia or the UAE. That's a laugh!

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

One of the top stressed job in Japan. Period.!!!

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

About 6.5 million a year is standard in Nagano. However, that's just for kyou-in, basically the same as seishain, and lots of teachers are not employed on full kyou-in conditions. I bet its those non-kyou-in positions in particular that are unfilled. fwiw, private schools generally have more teachers on irregular contracts and therefore pay less.

If its a 10+ hr day 7 days a week then yes, that's not an exceptional amount of money.

I didn't know about teachers getting benefits for burnout. I'll have to look into it.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Raised their salary by 30% and pay theirs overtime fee these teachers are deserving more and I'm sure those who want to be a teacher will study hard to get a teaching license.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

If only they had not asked, there would not have been a problem. /s

It was the first time that the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology had conducted a nationwide survey on the shortage.”
-4 ( +0 / -4 )

@Antiquesavings. My hafu Australian son is doing amazing well at school and second in HS at one of the best schools and his dream is to be a teacher will be sad to tell him he cannot but that's this racist theme park for you

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Janitors doubling as homeroom teachers? - Wait. J schools don’t have janitors. ‘Cleaning the school’ is part of ‘the elementary curriculum’ so, use that money saved from the free child labor to give these teachers they pay raises the need!

The shortage also resulted in principals, vice principals and **other personnel **doubling as homeroom teachers at some elementary schools.” -
-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Perhaps: “*It’s okay. Let’s focus on ‘club activities’. The double-income working parents have the extra money to pay for cram schools & tutors. The kids can learn “math and science” at those places*.”

Some junior and senior high schools [college prep] did not have any teachers in subjects such as math and science, the survey showed.” -
-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Why are people talking about high school salaries? The article is about elementary and middle school teachers, i.e. those who teach compulsory education. They earn on average a little more than local government employees and a little less than national government employees. They do get allowances for taking on extra duties such as clubs, but it's a flat allowance - no overtime.

If you think Japanese public school teachers are spending decades getting paid generously for sick leave, please tell us where you get your fascinating info. Those of us who look at local government guidelines find things like "three to six months on 60-80% of pay, up to 2 years (3 years in a very few places) on a much smaller percentage of pay." That's "up to" not "on average," and it's a percentage of base pay, not total income including allowances for extra responsibilities and so on.

And as for teacher shortages being a rural problem that the rest of us don’t need to worry about ... not so. Tokyo is fine, Kanagawa has only a small shortfall - but Chiba and Saitama have 8-14% unfilled positions. Even Kyoto city has 10% of public middle school positions unfilled.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@JeffLee - excellent words from a fellow countryman.

And, if you don't mind me adding this - I didn't need cram school to get into university.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The solution to this problem is obvious...

...Just get current teachers to pick up the slack.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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