The Manitoba government says 79 new teachers have been hired by school divisions over the past year, as the province works to reduce classroom sizes.

Hiring the 79 teachers, who are working in 31 school divisions, has resulted in 20 per cent fewer Kindergarten to Grade 3 classes that have 24 or more students, the province said Wednesday.

The hirings have also led to a 13 per cent increase in the number of Kindergarten to Grade 3 classes that have 20 students or less.

Premier Greg Selinger said smaller class sizes ensure students have more individual attention from teachers.

Earlier this year, the province announced that school divisions across Manitoba will have to cap their K-3 classroom sizes at 20 students by September 2017.

While 10 per cent of K-3 classrooms per school division can go slightly above the cap, no classes will be allowed to have more than 23 students.

The province said it provided divisions with money in June to hire the additional teachers and plan ways to implement the classroom size cap.