The Finance Ministry will ask the education ministry to increase the maximum number of students per class for first-graders at public elementary schools to 40, from the current 35, in a bid to cut the education budget for next year, it has been learned.

The Finance Ministry, which is reviewing fiscal 2015 budget requests submitted in August by various ministries, will present its proposal for public education funding cuts during the next meeting of a panel of experts on fiscal policy, scheduled for Monday.

The ministry estimates that if the maximum number of students per class in the first grade at elementary schools is returned to the pre-2011 level of 40, it would help reduce the number of teachers nationwide by 4,000, saving the government ¥8.6 billion in personnel costs per year, sources said.