Japan Data

Survey Reveals Teacher Shortage in Japan

Education Society

A first survey by Japan’s ministry of education of teacher shortages found that there was a shortfall of 0.31% with 5.8% of schools affected.

In the 2021 academic year, there is a shortage of 2,558 teachers at Japan’s public elementary, junior high, and high schools. This was the finding of the first survey on teacher shortages conducted by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT).

The survey involved 68 boards of education for prefectures or government-designated cities checking for teacher shortages at 32,903 schools as of the first day of school in April 2021. A total of 1,897 schools, or 5.8%, do not have enough teachers. The shortage of 2,558 represents 0.31% of the required standard of 836,079 teachers.

By school type, the required number of teachers fell short by 0.32% at elementary schools, 0.40% at junior high schools, 0.14% at high schools, and 0.32% at special-needs schools. The survey results also show that 142 special-needs schools surveyed (or 13.1%) face teacher shortages, along with 649 junior high schools (7.0%), 937 elementary schools (4.9%), and 169 high schools (4.8%).

Teacher Shortages (as of April 2021)

Teacher shortfall
(% of total)
Number of schools facing shortage
(% of total)
Elementary schools 1,218 (0.32%) 937 (4.9%)
Junior high schools 868 (0.4%) 649 (7.0%)
High schools 217 (0.14%) 169 (4.8%)
Special-needs schools 255 (0.32%) 142 (13.1%)
Total 2,558 (0.31%) 1,897 (5.8%)

Created by Nippon.com based on data from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology.

One underlying factor for the teacher shortage is the large-scale retirement of teachers of the baby-boom generation. At the same time, fewer members of the younger generation are interested in pursuing a career in education, given the long working hours. In recent years, the hectic schedules of school teachers have come under the spotlight, particularly at elementary and junior high schools. In addition, municipalities have scaled back their recruitment of teachers in anticipation of decreased student numbers due to Japan’s declining number of births. And this in turn has led to more and more nonregular teachers working under unstable employment conditions.

Results released by MEXT for the selection examination for public elementary school teachers conducted in the 2020 academic year show that there were only 2.6 applicants per job offer, which is the lowest competition rate on record, as compared to the peak of 12.5 in 2000. The ratio was 4.4 at junior high schools, 6.6 at high schools, and 3.1 at special-needs schools, all decreases of between 30% to 60% compared to peak years in the 2000s.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Pixta.)

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