Saturday, October 24, 2009

Japan explores private school tuition funding...?

Via the Japan Times:

The education ministry has decided to pursue ways to make private high schools tuition-free for students from low-income households under the new government's key policy, government sources said.

The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry will ask the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry to use taxes allocated to local governments to help fund the tuition-free program, which would apply to households with an annual income of up to ¥3.5 million.

Education ministry data show that municipal governments spend roughly ¥32 billion in expenses related to public high school tuition fees, including those needed for tuition exemptions and for covering fees in arrears.

The ministry is seeking to use ¥24.9 billion out of the ¥32 billion after the aid package for high school students is put in place in the next fiscal year.

As an advocate of tuition vouchers in the States, I'm curious to see how this plan works out. The main challenge, it seems, will be to overcome the reduced portion of the budget allocated to public schools. But I'm not exactly clear on what money is being spent here - federal or municipal. If it's from the regular budget that each prefecture uses to fund its board of education, I foresee problems, as teachers are already underpaid and resources are stretched thin at some schools (in Hyogo, anyway).

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