A New Deal for ALTs

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A big thank you to all of you who provided data for our first ever national study of working conditions of ALTs. The survey ran from June 27 to 31 March. With over 600 respondents we can use the survey to push for reforms in the ALT world. Already a number of local and national politicians as well as the press have taken a lot of interest in this work. Also, a big thanks to www.jobsinjapan.com for advertising this survey for us. Their help was priceless.

Our union just revealed shocking findings about Assistant Language Teachers (ALT/JET) working conditions. In a year-long survey, we discovered a major income gap of 1 million yen/yr between dispatched and directly hired ALT/JET. Our ALT symposium held June 26, 2023,  drew many attendees, including 2 diet members, 5 city councilors, and press representatives. The survey also highlighted widespread concerns about the team teaching system, unanimously acknowledged by all groups.

Join us in demanding fair pay and addressing the challenges faced by ALT/JET. Together, we can create a better future!

Assistant Language Teachers have been in Japan since the 1970s. What began as a handful of participants on government exchange programs has become a system that employs almost 20,000 teachers in positions from kindergartens through senior high schools. These teachers serve under a dizzying variety of job titles, contract types, employers, and work conditions all over Japan. Private companies compete to win the lowest bid driving down salaries and standards. ALTs are left with low pay and often, no insurance. Changes in labor law have disadvantaged directly hired ALTs forcing them into unstable yearly contracts that must be re-interviewed for each year. JET Programme participants are forced out when their arbitrary contract limits expire, despite the fact that labour law changes forbid contract renewal limits.

  • Private companies compete to win the lowest bid driving down salaries and standards. ALTs are left with low pay and often, no insurance.
  • Changes in labor law have disadvantaged directly hired ALTs forcing them into unstable yearly contracts that must be re-interviewed for each year.
  • JET Programme participants are forced out when their arbitrary contract limits expire, despite the fact that labour law changes forbid contract renewal limits.

Lack of oversight and standardization has turned the ALT field into an unorganized race to bottom as salaries remain stagnant and positions increasingly unstable. Seemingly paradoxically, this has been concurrent with rising standards in curriculum leading to increased workload and importance of language teachers. The ALTs deserve decent work and the Japanese teachers and students deserve decent ALTs who deliver quality education. At the end of the day, this will benefit the people we care about the most…our students. A teacher with less worries out of the classroom is one that can focus in the classroom. One of the best ways this can happen is with boards of education hiring ALTs directly, so they can cultivate dedicated groups of teachers. With support like this, ALTs can further themselves professionally. For example, ALTs can get the qualifications to be better teachers, to the benefit of their students.

Read more: Visit the Campaign Website

Why is this campaign so important? This video shows how an ALT working full time at a public school in Kitakyushu could barely earn enough to buy food.