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HOME  > Past issues  > 2012 September 12 - 18  > Gov’t accepts international covenant on free higher education
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2012 September 12 - 18 [EDUCATION]

Gov’t accepts international covenant on free higher education

September 14, 2012

The government on September 13 decided to withdraw its reservation to an article of the International Covenants on Human Rights calling for the gradual elimination of tuition for higher education.

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 1966. Japan ratified it in 1979, but held reservations pertaining to Article 13 Clause 2 (b) and (c) which call on member states to gradually make their higher-education programs tuition free. Among 160 member nations, only Japan and Madagascar reserved their compliance with the clause as of August 2012.

The Japanese Communist Party has long called for tuition free education at all levels, and repeatedly demanded in the Diet that the government withdraw the reservation.

JCP member of the House of Representative Miyamoto Takeshi, commenting on the decision, said that it depends on public pressure and the JCP’s efforts in the Diet to have the Covenant fully ratified without reservations. He stated that the JCP will keep demanding that the government introduce grant-type scholarship programs and tuition free education at national universities, and expand subsidies to parents of private high school students.

The Japanese government is spending less money on education than other developed countries. Its public expenditure on education institutions is 3.6% of GDP, below the average of 31 OECD nations of 5.4%, staying in the last place for three consecutive years.

The cost of schooling and entrance fees is 817,800 yen on average at national universities and 1,314,251 yen at private universities, as of 2011. No tuition fee is charged at public high schools. However, the students’ parents are paying an average of 237,669 yen to their schools apart from tuition fees such as for commuting expenses, uniforms, textbooks, and school trips.
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