Japanese teachers work longest hours among OECD members


Japanese teachers work an average of 53.9 hours per week, the highest figure among the OECD’s 34 member countries.

The figure for Japan was well above the average of 38.3 hours among OECD members, according to the Teaching and Learning International Survey, which Japan participated in for the first time.

The time spent by Japanese teachers on administrative work totaled 5.5 hours per week on average, longer than the OECD average of 2.9 hours. Time spent on extracurricular activities, such as coaching student clubs, came to 7.7 hours in Japan, compared with 2.1 for the OECD overall.

However, the hours spent teaching and preparing for classes are almost the same in Japan and the other countries surveyed.

The OECD survey also showed that the proportion of teachers who participate in professional development programs outside school is low in Japan. More than 80 percent of teachers said they can’t take part in such programs due to their heavy workload.

The survey collects internationally comparable data on the learning environment and the working conditions for teachers, focusing on lower secondary education.

  • Guest

    One issue this article ignores the big issue which is that the OECD uses numbers provided by the governments in question to create these reports.

    • midnightbrewer

      Which means that the teachers may work more, not less. Governments prefer to downplay numbers that cast them in a bad light.

      I’m engaged to a Japanese teacher and she goes to work 7 days a week. She’s lucky to get one day off a month.

      • itoshima2012

        Being a teacher is hard, I agree. However, teacher is not your usual carrier, it’s much much more important so putting in long hours and a lot of effort and passion is very important to our children. Thanks to your partner for doing such a great job! I always wonder why bankers for example get all that money practically for messing up the economy and shifting money to offshore tax heavens and teachers that are the pillar of our childrens’ education get so little. Truly not fair!

      • Starviking

        Effort and passion are useless if they are directed to club activites to the near exclusion of everything else in this country. Teachers have to waste time and energy on these non-academic pursuits, draining themselves of energy which would be better put in course planning and other educational areas.

        This is also an equality issue: those who can afford to get their kids educated at juku, the rest… Well, they can play a sport competently…

  • itoshima2012

    Longest hours? I can only agree. My daughters’ elementary school is public but they do an amazing job! It seems like going to a private school, very well managed, very good teachers, very well all around! Heads up! japanese teacher, at least the once I met, are truly amazing! And it’s not only the schools, I remember when she was a Kidnergarten, truly amazing what the teachers there did and achieved. My daghter enjoyed every second there and could write and read and do maths at age 5. I very much embrace the high working spirit of the Japanese teachers!

  • kyushuphil

    The teachers do this to themselves in Japan.

    They don’t solicit student essays — they have no interest in skills for an individual to express oneself, or skills for any individual to see others, let alone others crossing disciplines, crossing cultures. It’s all cramming of depersonalized info instead for these teachers.

    So they bore themselves as they regiment and strangle students imaginatively — especially in high school. As they are the walking dead, they feel the guilt and compensate for this by appearing to be busy all the time.

    Busy, busy zombies.

  • kyushuphil

    Very funny, James.

    I’m sure you make your jest in full knowledge of the well-funded and lobbied strategies of Corporate America to exploit the world’s talent while also defunding education in the U.S., vilifying teachers, and promoting a pro-profit agenda everywhere their grubby corporate hands can reach.