The Education System
South Korean people know the value of education. In South Korea, higher education in college or university determines social status of people, their job position, and even marital status. What is more, even parents are judged by the society depending on the college or university their kids go to. That is why education in South Korea is very important part of life in this country. It means both kids and parents are highly motivated when it comes to getting an education.
In comparison to any other nation, South Koreans spend more money on education. Statistics show that about 15% of the gross national product is spent on education and in some families, parents can spend up to 25% of their income to educate their children. These includes education itself, tutoring and supplemental educational materials.
It is interesting to know that most of South Korean students after a regular school day visit some extra private schools called Hagwons.
Their school day starts at 9 am and lasts until five pm. But when it comes to Hagwons, it starts at 5 pm and ends at 10 pm. It means that South Korean students spend around 13 hours a day studying. Still, this does not include time they spend to get ready for the classes and making homework.
Teachers in South Korea make a great impact on the success of their students. In this country, it is pretty hard to become a teacher, as only 5% of hopeful students can enter the elementary school teaching program. What is more, many of them give it up so only 1% of them become teachers. It is worth to mention that being a teacher is South Korea is prestigious. Teachers here always enjoy high social status, make a lot of money and have a great job security. That is why many South Korean students want to become a teacher in this country. Still, they know that they will have to work hard and to dedicate themselves to their job to get the reward from the society.
The government, along with the Ministry of Education in South Korea, do their best to make any school in the country top. Some attempts to close the gap between students who study in high-achieving urban schools and lower-achieving urban schools were made in 2008. As the result, financial support was provided to all students of middle schools, classes were equipped with computers and more schools were opened in rural areas to make the educational process more accessible for everyone.
It is worth to mention that when it comes to computer education, South Koreans are at the top. Such conclusions are explained by the PISA’s digital literacy test held in 2009 when students from South Korea showed the best results. The thing is that every school in this country has a high-speed internet that helps them to find and learn information easily. Also, even low-income students in South Korea use digital textbooks to make learning of materials more efficient. It means that nearly all books from all of the schools are accessible from a computer, phone or tablet. What is more, there is a Cyber Home Learning System in South Korea, an online program created to help kids with their home-learning.
There are a lot of tests students in South Korea have to pass. Tests are very serious as the future of students depends on its results. During every college entrance exam, life in the country changes as there is a lot of pressure both on students who have to pass exams and parents who pray while their kid passing one.
South Korea education system is divided into three parts. These are a primary school that lasts for six years, a middle school that lasts for three years and a high school that last for three years as well. Most of the schools in South Korea are divided along gender lines and there are only 10% of those that are coeducational. Still, there is a standardized curriculum so both boys and girls in South Korea study technology and domestic science.
There are nine main subjects in the primary curriculum, such as moral education, Korean language, social studies, mathematics, science, physical education, music, fine arts, and practical arts. When it comes to learning foreign languages, classes of English start in the third grade. Still, learning English in South Korea has nothing in common with traditional classes as pupils learn the language in a relaxed atmosphere through a conversational exchange. It means that they have a lot of language practice and avoid such issues as rote learning of English grammar and rules. The rote learning begins when a child enters middle or high school.
Among the main objectives of primary school, South Koreans state improving basic abilities, skills, and attitudes, developing language ability and civic morality students need to live in the modern society, increasing the spirit of cooperation, fostering basic arithmetic skills, as well as scientific observation skills, and, for sure, promoting the understanding of the healthy life and harmonious development of both body and mind. These are basic goals that are often updated to correspond the changing society of South Korea.
After elementary school, children enter to middle school that includes grades from seven to nine. There are 12 main subjects in the curriculum, as well as electives and various extracurricular activities. There is a difference between teachers who work in primary school and those who work in middle school. When it comes to elementary schools, there is a teacher who taught all subjects and, in contrast, in middle school, teachers are content specialists.
After middle school students go to high school. High schools in South Korea are divided into two groups: academic schools and vocational schools. Still, academic high schools are more popular in the Republic. Also, there are some high schools that are specialized in science, arts, foreign languages and some other fields.
The main aims of high school in South Korea are fostering personality in order to preserve and strengthen the backbone of the nation, developing knowledge and skills needed to have a successful career, promoting autonomy of each student, as well as promoting emotional development and the ability to think critically, improving physical strength and fostering sound minds.
Higher education is South Korea has a lot to offer both to the citizens of the Republic and international students. There are more than 370 official South Korean higher education providers, including 179 private universities and 43 national universities.
In 2004, the South Korean government set a goal to attract 100,000 foreign students to the universities of the country by 2012. In 2011, the goal was nearly achieved with 85,000 international students who came to South Korea to get a higher education. That is why a new goal was set. By 2020 it is planned to see about 200,000 international students in the country. So if you are thinking about getting education abroad, South Korea is a great place to start your path.