January 09, 2023 13:11
The school-age population is dwindling rapidly to the point where there will be fewer than 2 million kids in elementary school by 2028.
The figure is less than one-third of the 5.75 million in 1970 and over 30 percent fewer than last year.
According to a report by the Education Ministry, there will be 5.2 million schoolkids this year, 5.12 million next year, 5.01 million in 2025 and just 4.25 million in 2029.
The elementary school population will shrink dramatically due to the record low birthrate. It stood at 2.66 million last year but is expected to dwindle to 1.84 million by 2028.
The middle school population will shrink from 1.33 million this year to 1.23 million by 2029 but that of high school students will be relatively steady at around 1.3 million.
But once the children grow older, high schools will also start emptying out.
There are worries that the actual numbers could be even smaller since forecasts tend to be too conservative. The 2021 forecast for the school population in 2026 was 4.87 million, but the ministry's new report estimates it at 4.81 million or 60,000 fewer.
"The actual number of students stood at 5.28 million last year, compared to an earlier estimate of 5.29 million. There was therefore a gap between earlier projections and the new estimates that took the actual figures into account," a ministry official said.
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