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January 13, 2005

Many Regions Support Saturday Lessons

A recent survey by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper has confirmed the trend to hold Saturday classes at public schools. The education ministry switched all schools nationwide to a five-day week in 2002, and the education law states that both Saturday and Sunday are holidays. But mainly due to the need to prepare students for university entrance examinations, many schools never fully implemented the change. Teachers work Saturdays as "volunteers" or supplementary lessons (hoshuu) are "sponsored" by PTAs. Teachers may receive days off in lieu. Currently eight prefectures recognize such Saturday activities as official business, while 12 allow PTAs to support them financially. As an example, in a 2003 survey over half of the 160 municipal schools in Osaka prefecture had Saturday lessons run by teachers on a volunteer basis. From last September, the prefectural board of education now classifies this as official work time. In Tokyo, teachers are allowed one paid half day of "home research" to prepare for each Saturday they work. Some districts are more strict about keeping supplementary lessons on a purely voluntary basis, saying that teachers should not get preferential treatment when many other people in the community give freely of their time in local activities. report (Japanese)

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