Beginning next March, the five-day workweek in schools will be expanded from once a month to twice a month.
The Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development announced on November 29 that teachers and students from elementary, middle, and high schools will be allowed to have two Saturdays off with the introduction of the 40 hour workweek system.
The superintendents of educational affairs in cities and provinces will decide on which Saturday students will not attend school by taking into account the educational and social conditions of their communities. The free Saturday is expected to come every two weeks.
As a result, the number of school days will decrease by 15 on average up to 22 or 10% out of the 220 annual school days. Class hours will drop one hour a week or 34 hours a year.
Class hours of first and second graders in the elementary schools will not decrease. But class hours for from third graders in the elementary schools to seniors in high schools will fall by an average of an hour a week.
The ministry is considering extending the implementation of the new system for another year or introducing a full 5-day workweek system from 2007 based on what happens next year.
The ministry also plans to expand the number of elementary schools with extracurricular activities to 2,500, about half of the total, by 2008. The schools will offer educational programs for children from underprivileged or double-income families who might be neglected at home on free Saturdays.