Amid issues such as labor shortages and long working hours for teachers, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) has started full-scale discussions on salary and work style reform at a special subcommittee of the Central Council for Education = Central Education Council. We hope to indicate a certain direction by around spring next year.
Regarding the debate over teachers' working styles, a man who lost his son, who was a teacher, to suicide due to overwork, said, "I want the government to urgently create a work environment and system that does not cause casualties."
According to preliminary figures from the Survey of Teachers' Work Conditions, released in April for the first time in six years, 4.6% of junior high school teachers and 45.77% of elementary schools are expected to exceed the government's limit of 1 hours of overtime per month, and 64.5% of junior high school teachers and 80.36% of elementary schools have a potential equivalent to 6 hours per month, which is called the "overwork death line."
In response to the survey results, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) held a special subcommittee meeting of the Central Council of Education on May 26 and began full-scale discussions on issues such as salary and work style reform.
Specifically, discussions are expected to include whether to raise the 4% increase in monthly salary in exchange for no overtime pay, the optimization of teachers' duties and the enhancement of the system including staff, and the 35-person class in junior high schools.
Many of the participating committee members expressed the opinion that work style reform should be expedited, so we decided to prioritize discussions from the next meeting.
The Central Council for Education hopes to present a certain direction by around spring next year.
Chief Cabinet Secretary "Looking forward to concrete discussions in the future"
At a press conference, Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno pointed out that "solving the shortage of teachers is an urgent issue, and although the results of work style reform are steadily appearing, there are still many teachers who work long hours, and it is necessary to continue to accelerate these efforts."
He then stated, "Based on the direction indicated in the Basic Policy, it is important to promote work style reform and enhancement of school guidance and management systems in an integrated manner, including improvement of working conditions, and I look forward to concrete discussions in the future."
A father who lost his son, who was a teacher, to suicide due to overwork,
Regarding the debate over teachers' work styles that began at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, a man who lost his son, who was a teacher, to suicide due to overwork, said, "I want the government to urgently create a workplace environment and system that does not cause casualties."
Tomoo, then 27, a junior high school teacher and the eldest son of Fujio Shimada who lives in Fukui Prefecture, committed suicide nine years ago due to overwork.
The watch displayed with Tomoo's remains continues to sound the alarm at midnight.
This is because after taking a short nap, I would get up again around 0:0 to prepare for class.
In the diary that Tomoo kept every day until one week before his death, he wrote about his feelings at the time, such as "Let's take a nap if we work hard until 1:2 (in the morning)," "What we want now is sleep time," "Obsessive thoughts that we should not rest," and "I'm tired, I'm sorry for getting lost."
After his death, it was found that he had worked more than 160 hours of overtime per month due to overlapping duties such as preparing for classes, serving as a deputy advisor for the baseball team, training, and dealing with parents, and it was certified as a public accident.
Later, in a lawsuit filed by Mr. Shimada seeking compensation from the prefectural government, it was admitted that the principal had neglected to fulfill his duties, such as reducing working hours by grasping the work hours and contents, and it was confirmed as it was.
Ms. Shimada said, "When my son died, the person in charge of the Board of Education said, 'It's unfortunate, but I'm glad you were a good teacher.' My fellow teachers were with me and I didn't notice any change in my son."
For this reason, Shimada has been working with current teachers and experts to make requests to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, and is calling for drastic improvements, such as clarifying the responsibilities of managers and the Board of Education when the upper limit of overtime hours is exceeded.
Commenting on the discussion, Shimada said, "Even if the salary increase is raised from 4% to 10%, overtime work will not decrease, and I hope that the work environment and system will be created as soon as possible so that there will be at least one teacher who takes his own life like his son. I would like to see efforts to reduce teachers' overtime work, such as assigning and outsourcing support staff, so that teachers can fulfill their primary duties with children. I want them to manage their work responsibly so that the dignity of workers is protected."