Japan’s ratio of education spending to GDP lowest among OECD nations

Japan’s expenditure on education as a percentage of gross domestic product in 2008 remained the lowest among 31 member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the organization said in a report released Tuesday.

Japan’s ratio of educational expenditure to GDP in 2008 stood at 3.3 percent, the lowest among the 31 of the OECD’s 34 members with comparable data. Japan’s ratio was also the lowest in 2005 and 2007, and the second lowest in 2004 and 2006 in the annual OECD studies.

Meanwhile, private spending on education as a proportion of total educational expenditure stood at 33.6 percent in Japan, the third highest among 28 countries with comparable data, following Chile at 41.4 percent and South Korea at 40.4 percent.

The average number of students per class at Japanese elementary schools in 2009 stood at 28.0, compared with the average of 21.4 for 25 countries with comparable data. The average class size at junior high schools was 33.0, the second largest class size among the 25 countries, following South Korea at 35.1, the OECD said.

Besides efforts by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology to reduce class sizes, the OECD report pointed out that “other factors that influence the quality of education need to be taken into account,” such as improving teachers’ salaries and working conditions in Japan.