Japan Comes Last In Public Education Spending

Japan comes last in public education spending

A survey shows that Japan's public spending on education as a percentage of GDP was the lowest among OECD countries.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development released a report based on its survey conducted in 2016.

The report says spending on education by Japan's national and local governments accounted for 2.9 percent of the country's GDP.

The figure is well below the OECD average of 4 percent. It's the lowest among the 35 member countries.

Norway tops the list at 6.3 percent, followed by Finland at 5.4 percent and Belgium at 5.3 percent.

Meanwhile, Japan's households bear 22 percent of education costs, which is comparatively high among OECD members. For higher education, families cover 53 percent of the cost.

A new law seeking to ease the financial burden of higher education will take effect next April. Under the measure, low-income families will receive waivers or pay less for enrollment and tuition fees.

But critics say the measure is not enough because the threshold for receiving help is too strict and the law does not apply to all universities and colleges.

OECD Director for Education and Skills Andreas Schleicher says Japan performs well despite the low ratio of spending, which could be regarded as effective investment.

But he cautions that those less privileged would miss out if it depends on individual funding, and the system will not be sustainable.