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July 10, 2002

Changes Afoot For School Teachers

The education ministry is tightening rules that govern paid holidays for teachers. While the Japan Teachers' Union complains that teachers are overworked, many parents feel that the recent change to a five-day week means that teachers have too much time off. But the image of teachers having long holidays belies the fact that they have to work on weekdays even during school holidays. Many have tended to work extra weekend hours and accumulated paid days off, which allowed them to take a longer break, or have elected to study at home during school vacations. The new rules place extra restrictions on both these practices. Meanwhile, in the first review of the teacher's salary scale since 1951, the ministry is considering allowing local governments to set their own standards. This would affect the roughly 1.1 million teachers at the nation's public schools. Officials said they plan to set the salaries for teachers working at the elementary to junior high school levels higher than general civil servants. A proposal is expected by this autumn and a bill on the issue would be submitted during next year's ordinary Diet session.

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