News Navigator: How much does education cost in Japan?
The Mainichi answers some common questions readers may have about the price of education in Japan, from kindergarten through to university.
Question: Education expenses in Japan are generally said to be expensive. How much does it cost to put a child through kindergarten to university?
Answer: Cost can vary a great deal depending on whether the schools are national or public, or private. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) calculated average education expenses per child in fiscal 2006 for six different educational scenarios.
Attending public schools from kindergarten through high school and then a national university proves to be the least expensive, at about 8.64 million yen in total. Meanwhile, if a child goes only to public schools throughout his or her education, it will cost 8.8 million yen. If a child enrolls in even one private school, expenses creep up closer to 10 million yen. Specifically, going to a private elementary school will cost 8.24 million yen. The most expensive scenario is enrollment at private schools throughout, which will cost 22.58 million yen.
While the data includes the cost of cram schools and extracurricular activities, they are average figures calculated without taking whether a child has chosen a university major in the arts or sciences into account; studying a math or science-related field costs more.
Q: So, education expenses can really squeeze family budgets.
A: Yes, and education tends to take up a higher percentage of annual income among lower-income households. According to a 2008 survey by Japan Finance Corp., in families with an annual income of 9 million yen or more, education expenses per child in elementary school or above accounted for 23.2 percent of income, while in families with an annual income between 2 and 4 million yen, the expenses made up 55.6 percent.
For households with two children enrolled in university at the same time, MEXT estimates education expenses to be about one-third of the country’s average household income, which is 6.5 million yen after taxes.
Q: How do education expenses in Japan compare to those in other countries?
A: Compared to Japan and other East Asian countries, people in Europe and the United States strongly expect their country to bear responsibility for education, and parents do not personally put in as much money into their children’s education as they do in Japan. Instead, other countries spend more public funds on education. Meanwhile, there is a pronounced dearth of public funds spent on preschool education and higher education in Japan, including universities. The high percentage of children continuing their education at universities in Japan is made possible by the efforts of their families. (Answers by Tomoko Onuki, Political News Department)
(Mainichi Japan) August 16, 2009