Yamagata is first prefecture to limit class size for all grades

Yamagata Prefecture in northeastern Japan announced on December 6 that
all elementary schools in the prefecture will have no more than 33 children
in one class from the next school year starting from April 2002.

Yamagata is the first prefecture to introduce a smaller class size for
all of the six grades of the prefecture's elementary schools.

Chiba University Professor Miwa Sadanobu said this is an epoch-making
step because the smaller class size system has been introduced only for
first and second grade children in five prefectures.

In Yamagata, a citizens organization since 1999 has campaigned for a
maximum class size of no more than 30 children per teacher. This was also
the major issue in the gubernatorial election campaign last January.

By the national standard, the maximum class size for elementary and
junior high schools is 40. Teachers and parents have wanted to reduce the
number to 30 in order to ensure that all children understand what they
learn. The All Japan Teachers and Staff's Union (Zenkyo) has collected
signatures since 1989, calling on the government to change the standard.

The law on schools was revised last March to allow local governments to
set the maximum class size at no more than 40. (end)