Japan’s public education system is one of the most cost-effective in terms of student performance, a senior official of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development said Tuesday.
According to the organization’s latest annual survey of 29 OECD countries, Japan is fifth in average number of students per classroom, a key factor in cost performance.
Although Japan is often criticized for its high student-to-teacher ratios, Andreas Schleicher, deputy head of the OECD statistics division, citing the example of Italy, said the data show that smaller class sizes do not necessarily translate into better academic performance.
Schleicher said large class sizes allow a government to invest in other facets of education, such as employing good teachers and providing a better working environment.
Japan’s relatively high rate of spending on private education also contributes to the better cost performance of public education.
In 2005, the public share of spending on education was 68.6 percent, well below the OECD average of 85.5 percent, according to the 2008 edition of the annual report Education at a Glance.
However, Japan’s private expenditures on postsecondary education is remarkably high at 66.3 percent, while the OECD average is 26.9 percent, according to the survey.
This means Japanese university students benefit less from the government compared to their counterparts in European countries, where tuition is subsidized.
The U.S. invested almost twice as much as Japan in postsecondary institutions in both public and private expenditures in 2005 but was ranked the second highest in the proportion of students who enter a postsecondary program but leave without a degree.