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September 18, 2003

Teachers: Old and Male

According to an OECD survey of 30 developed countries released this week, there remain serious imbalances in teacher numbers. In Europe, the problem is an aging teacher population with salaries being too low to attract sufficient numbers of young teachers to fill the void. The average age of elementary school teachers in 15 of the countries was over 40, with more than 50% of teachers in Italy and Germany being past the age of 50. In Japan, the situation is a bit better: 40% of primary school teachers and 39% of junior high school teachers are in their 40s. The problem here is the lack of female teachers. While the numbers in kindergarten are actually a bit above the OECD average of 95%, there is a big drop after that. Only 24.6% of high school teachers (OECD avg. 51.2%) and 14.1% of university lecturers (36%) are women. And the belief that women should attend two-year junior colleges still seems to prevail, as they make up only 39% of university grads and 25% of doctorate holders, both the lowest figures in the OECD survey.

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