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HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 March 31 - April 6  > Long-held demand by parents and teachers for a maximum 35-pupil class size fulfilled
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2021 March 31 - April 6 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Long-held demand by parents and teachers for a maximum 35-pupil class size fulfilled

April 1, 2021

With a law revision for the first time in 40 years, a 35-pupil class limit, which parents and teachers have long demanded, will be introduced in public elementary schools across Japan.

At the House of Councilors plenary session on March 30, a bill to revise the Law Concerning Class-size and the Standard of Fixed Number of Educational Personnel in Public Compulsory Education Schools was unanimously approved and enacted. With this revision, the national standard for class sizes in public elementary schools will be lowered to 35 from the current 40.

Japanese Communist Party lawmaker Kira Yoshiko in discussion prior to the vote welcomed the law revision. As a factor behind the revision, she cited that a petition campaign for a better educational environment, which parents and teachers began 32 years ago, collected 460 million signatures in total over the years. She added, “In addition, with the implementation of staggered school attendance to minimize the risk of infections with COVID-19, more and more people became aware of the need for smaller classes, which led to the change in the national standard.”

Kira referred to the fact that according to the revised law, the reduction in class sizes to 35 will not be carried out in all grades simultaneously, and urged the government to apply the 35-student class size system to all grades in public elementary schools as soon as possible. Furthermore, she demanded a further amendment to the law so that class sizes at public secondary schools and special schools for disabled students will also be limited to 35.

The JCP lawmaker pointed out that in order to introduce smaller classes in all grades in public elementary schools without delay, an increase in the number of teachers is vital. Noting that compared with 10 years ago, 4,000 more public school teachers work under non-regular employment contracts, Kira demanded that they be converted to regular positions. She also requested the government to review its current policy on consolidation and elimination of public schools in order to avoid causing classroom shortages after the implementation of the 35-student class limit.

Past related article:
> Shii and teachers’ union agree on need to reduce class sizes at public schools as part of anti-corona efforts [June 20, 2020]
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