Despite a recent surge in the number of Japanese school-age children living overseas, the education ministry has failed to dispatch enough teachers to Japanese schools abroad over the past decade, causing an acute labor shortage at those institutions, a Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications report warned Friday.
The ministry admonished the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology for failing to re-hire retired teachers and send them to teach in overseas schools.
According to the report, the number of children at compulsory education age, roughly 6 to 14, surged 1.4 times to 76,536 in 2014 from 55,566 in 2005.
The surge can be attributed to a recent spike in the number of Japanese companies setting up branches in foreign countries, in particular Asian nations. Of those children, 42.1 percent live in Asia, 31.5 percent in North America and 18.6 percent in Europe.
However, the number of teachers dispatched by the education ministry to full-time authorized overseas Japanese schools was 1,138 in fiscal 2014, down 10.2 percent from 1,267 in fiscal 2005, the report said.
The education ministry dispatches teachers as the Constitution guarantees Japanese citizens the right to equal education opportunities.
Teachers are selected based on recommendations from prefectural education boards. But these boards are reluctant to refer more teachers because they also are finding it difficult to recruit enough teachers, in particular in urban areas, the report said.
The education ministry should “form a policy to secure the necessary number of teachers to cope with the increasing number of school children,” the internal affairs ministry concluded.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry was urged to provide subsidies to more “supplementary schools,” which conduct lessons in Japanese on weekends or after-school hours for children living overseas.
In fiscal 2014 the Foreign Ministry, citing budget constraints and recent depreciation of the yen’s value, turned down requests from all 15 supplementary schools that newly applied for government subsidies, the internal affairs ministry pointed out.
Last year the number of Japanese companies operating branches overseas was almost double that of 10 years ago at 68,573.
In fiscal 2014, the education ministry had a budget of ¥17.1 billion for subsidizing authorized Japanese schools overseas, and the Foreign Ministry ¥2.5 billion.
About 90.6 percent of the budgets are used to secure teachers for the schools and improve standards.
As of March 2014, there were 88 full-time Japanese schools in 50 countries and 203 supplementary schools in 54 countries.
The report can be viewed in full (in Japanese) at www.soumu.go.jp/menu_news/s-news/97809.html#kekkahoukoku.