South Korea Educational System

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  • 1. SOUTH KOREA South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea, is a sovereign country located in the southern part of the Korean Peninsula. The name "Korea" is derived from Goryeo, a dynasty which ruled in the Middle Ages. Capital: Seoul Dialing code: 82 President: Park Geun-hye Population: 49.78 million (2011) World Bank Gross domestic product: 1.116 trillion USD (2011) World Bank Government: Constitutional republic, Presidential system, Unitary state Language: Korean Currency: Won (1won= 0.039peso) History Division of korea The division of Korea into South Korea and North Korea stems from the 1945 Allied victory in World War II, ending the Empire of Japan's 35year colonial rule of Korea. The United States and the Soviet Union agreed to temporarily occupy the country as a trusteeship with the zone of control
  • 2. demarcated along the 38th parallel. The purpose of this trusteeship was to establish a Korean provisional government which would become "free and independent in due course." Though elections were scheduled, the Soviet Union refused to cooperate with United Nations plans to hold general and free elections in the two Korean zones, and as a result, a Communist state was permanently established under Soviet auspices in the north and a pro-Western state was set up in the south. The two superpowers backed different leaders and two states were effectively established, each of which claimed sovereignty over the whole Korean peninsula. The Korean War, which lasted from 1950 to 1953, left the two Koreas separated by the Korean Demilitarized Zone through the Cold War and into the 2010s. The 2000s saw some improved relations between the two sides, overseen in the south by liberal governments, who were more amicable towards the north than previous governments had been. These changes were largely reversed under conservative South Korean president Lee Myung-bak who opposed the north's continued development of nuclear weapons. Geography South Korea occupies the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula, which extends some 1,100 km (680 mi) from the Asian mainland. This mountainous peninsula is flanked by the Yellow Sea to the west, and Sea of Japan (East Sea) to the east. Its southern tip lies on the Korea Strait and the East China Sea. The country, including all its islands, lies between latitudes 33° and 39°N, and longitudes 124° and 130°E. Its total area is 100,032 square kilometres (38,622.57 sq mi). South Korea can be divided into four general regions: an eastern region of high mountain ranges and narrow coastal plains; a western region of broad coastal plains, river basins, and rolling hills; a southwestern region of mountains and valleys; and a southeastern region dominated by the broad basin of the Nakdong River. South Korea's terrain is mostly mountainous, most of which is not arable. Lowlands, located primarily in the west and southeast, make up only 30% of the total land area. About three thousand islands, mostly small and uninhabited, lie off the western and southern coasts of South Korea. Jeju-do is about 100 kilometres (about 60 mi) off the southern coast of South Korea. It is the country's largest island, with an area of 1,845 square kilometres (712 sq mi). Jeju is also the site of South Korea's highest point: Hallasan, an extinct volcano, reaches 1,950 meters (6,398 ft) above sea level. The easternmost islands of South Korea include Ulleungdo and Liancourt Rocks (Dokdo), while Marado and Socotra Rock are the southernmost islands of South Korea. South Korea has 20 national parks and popular nature places like the Boseong Tea Fields, Suncheon Bay Ecological Park, and the first national park of Jirisan.
  • 3. Demographics South Korea is noted for its population density, which is 487 per square kilometer, more than 10 times the global average. Most South Koreans live in urban areas, because of rapid migration from the countryside during the country's quick economic expansion in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. The capital city of Seoul is also the country's largest city and chief industrial center. According to the 2005 census, Seoul had a population of 9.8 million inhabitants. The Seoul National Capital Area has 24.5 million inhabitants making it the world's second largest metropolitan area and easily the most densely populated city in the OECD. Other major cities include Busan (3.5 million), Incheon (2.5 million), Daegu (2.5 million), Daejeon (1.4 million), Gwangju (1.4 million) and Ulsan (1.1 million). The population has also been shaped by international migration. After World War II and the division of the Korean Peninsula, about four million people from North Korea crossed the border to South Korea. This trend of net entry reversed over the next 40 years because of emigration, especially to the United States and Canada. South Korea's total population in 1955 was 21.5 million, and today it is roughly 50,062,000. South Korea is one of the most ethnically homogeneous societies in the world, with more than 99% of inhabitants having Korean ethnicity. Koreans call their society 단일민족국가, Dan-ilminjokgukga, "the single race society". The percentage of foreign nationals has been growing rapidly.As of 2009, South Korea had 1,106,884 foreign residents, 2.7% of the population; however, more than half of them are ethnic Koreans with a foreign citizenship. For example, migrants from China (PRC) make up 56.5% of foreign nationals, but approximately 30% of the Chinese citizens in Korea are Joseonjok (조선족 in Korean), PRC citizens of Korean ethnicity. Regardless of the ethnicity, there are 28,500 US military personnel serving in South Korea for one year of unaccompanied tour, according to the Korea National Statistical Office. In addition, about 43,000 English teachers from English-speaking countries reside temporarily in Korea. Currently, South Korea has one of the highest rate of growth of foreign born population, with about 30,000 foreign born residences obtaining South Korean citizenship every year since 2010. South Korea's birthrate was the world's lowest in 2009. If this continues, its population is expected to decrease by 13% to 42.3 million in 2050. South Korea's annual birthrate is approximately 9 births per 1000 people. However, the birthrate has increased by 5.7% in 2010 and Korea no longer has the world's lowest birthrate. According to a 2011 report from ChosunIlbo, South Korea's total fertility rate (1.23 children born per woman) is higher than those of Taiwan (1.15) and Japan (1.21). The average life expectancy in 2008 was 79.10 years which is 34th in the world. Linguistic Affiliation About seventy million people speak Korean. Most live on the peninsula, but more than five million live across the globe. Korean is considered part of the Tungusic branch of the Altaic group of the Ural-Altaic language family. It also has a close relationship to
  • 4. Japanese in general structure, grammar, and vocabulary. The form of Korean spoken around Seoul is regarded as standard. Major dialects differ mainly in accent and intonation. Except for old Cheju dialect, all are mutually intelligible. Koreans value their native tongue and their alphabet, han'gul , which was invented in the mid-fifteenth century. Until then, Korea's aristocratic society used Chinese characters, while the government and people used the writing system known as idu (a transcription system of Korean words invented in the eighth century by Silla scholars using Chinese characters). The Chinese writing system requires a basic knowledge of several thousand characters. Commoners who did not have the time or means to master Chinese could not read or write. Moreover, it is difficult to express spoken Korean in Chinese characters. EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM Education in South Korea is viewed as being crucial for success and competition is, consequently, very heated and fierce. A central administration oversees the process for the education of children from kindergarten to the third and final year of high school. Mathematics, Science, Korean, English, and social studies are generally considered to be the most important subjects. Normally physical education is not considered important as it is not recognised, by the generally academic elitist South Korean populace, as education and therefore many schools lack high-quality gymnasiums and varsity athletics. South Korea was the first country in the world to provide high-speed internet access to all primary, junior, and high schools. Although South Korean students often rank highly on international comparative assessments when compared to students of most Western education systems, the South Korean education system is criticised for emphasising too much upon passive learning and memorisation. The South Korean education system is rather notably strict and overly structured as compared to its counterparts in most Western societies. Also, the prevalence of non-school for-profit private institutes such as academies or cramschools (Hagwon [학원]), which emphasise too much on passive memorisation, as opposed to conceptual understanding, in students are criticised as a major social problem. Level/Grade Typical age Infant School Nursery School 0-2 Kindergarten 3-7 Primary School 1st Grade 7-8 2nd Grade 8-9 3rd Grade 9-10
  • 5. 4th Grade 10-11 5th Grade 11-12 6th Grade 12-13 Middle School 1st grade 13-14 2nd Grade 14-15 3rd Grade 15-16 High School 1st Grade 16-17 2nd Grade 17-18 3rd Grade 18-19 Post-secondary education Ages vary (usually four years, referred to as Freshman, Tertiary education (College or University) Sophomore, Junior and Senior years) School Ladder System (6-3-3-4) The main track of the system includes six years of elementary school, three years of middle school, three years of high school, and four years of university education. The higher education institutions consist of graduate schools, four-year universities, and two or three-year junior colleges. The school ladder system has undergone several changes in the past. The first system proposed by the Education Law promulgated in 1949 followed a 6-4-2-4 pattern, including six years of elementary school, four years of middle school, and dual tracks at the high school level, that is, two and four-year tracks. In the first revision of the school ladder system that shortly followed (1950), the high school level was unified in a single three-year track, and the number of school years for teachers’ college was lengthened to three years. The second revision in 1951 lowered the number of the middle school years to three years. When the Fifth Republic was inaugurated in 1981, the duration of school years for colleges of education was raised from two to four years. The next year, the Open University was founded. In sum, its having undergone only partial revisions and reinforcements, Korea’s school ladder system has preserved the original form of its single-track system adopted at the time of the promulgation of the Education Law.
  • 6. However, recent international trends in the field of education show continued expansion of pre-school education and lifelong education along with universalization of elementary and secondary education and mass access to higher education; therefore, there have arisen increasing demands to change the school ladder system to be more flexible. School year The school year is divided into two semesters, the first of which begins in the beginning of March and ends in mid-July, the second of which begins in late August and ends in mid-February. The schedules are not uniformly standardized and vary from school to school. Most South Korean middle schools and high schools have school uniforms, modeled on western-style uniforms. Boys' uniform usually consists of trousers and white shirts, and girls wear skirts and white shirts (this only applies in middle schools and high schools). School System in Korea Although preschool education is not yet compulsory, its importance has been increasingly recognized in recent years. As recently as 1980, there were only 901 kindergartens across the nation but this number has increased to 8,343 as of 2002. The government has carried out a nationwide project to subsidize kindergarten tuition for children from low-income families since September 1999, providing underprivileged children increased opportunities for preschool education and thereby establishing a more equitable educational environment. The program was expanded to provide free education for 20 percent of five-year-old children from 2002. Elementary schooling is compulsory with an enrollment rate of 100 percent. Three more years of compulsory education for the middle school course was implemented nationwide in 2002. The average number of students per teacher in elementary schools stood at 58.8 in 1960. This figure has been reduced to 28.1 in 2002. The average number of students in a class was 34.9 in 2002. Four-year educational study at a teacher’s university is required of an elementary school teacher. Upon completion of elementary school, children in the twelve to fourteen age group enter the middle school system for seventh to ninth grade courses. The student-teacher ratio for middle schools in 2002 was 19.3, while the comparable figure for 1970 was 42.3. There are two types of high schools in the Republic of Korea, general and vocational. Applicants for vocational high schools (covering agriculture, engineering, business and maritime studies) have a choice of schools and are admitted through examinations administered by each school. The curriculum at vocational high schools is usually 40-60 percent general courses with the remainder being vocational courses. As of 2002, there were 741 vocational high schools with 535,363 students. Among general high schools, there are several specialized high schools in the areas of arts, physical education, science, and foreign languages. The goal of these schools is to provide appropriate education for students with special ability in certain fields. Courses at general high schools tend to center around preparations for entering universities. As of 2002, there
  • 7. were 1,254 general high schools with 1.22 million students. Combining the two types of high school together, the ratio of middle school graduates advancing to high school was 99.5 in 2002. The curriculum, revised in 1997, introduces ten basic common subjects, individual projects and special activities that cover the ten years from the first year of elementary school through to the first year of high school. It also includes new elective subjects for the final two years of high school that are designed to provide students greater direction in discovering their aptitudes and more choices in choosing their future careers. The new curricula were put into effect, beginning with kindergartens, in 2000. The introduction of the curricula in elementary schools started with the first and second grades in 2000, followed by the 3rd and 4th grades in 2001 and by the 5th and 6th grades in 2002. In middle schools and high schools, it was applied to first year students and freshmen in 2001 and 2002 respectively. There are several different types of institutions of higher learning in the Republic of Korea: colleges and universities with four-year undergraduate programs (six years for medical and dental colleges), four-year teacher’s universities, two-year junior vocational colleges, an air and correspondence university, open universities, and miscellaneous schools of collegiate status with two- or four-year programs such as nursing schools and theological seminaries. As of 2002, there were 358 institutions of higher learning in Korea, with a total of 3.31 million students and 59,750 faculty members. Colleges and universities in Korea operate under strict enrollment limits. The eligibility of each applicant is determined by the student’s high school records and national standardized test results. In addition to this, certain colleges and universities require an additional entrance essay test administered by each institution since 1996. In 2002, the ratio of high school graduates who advanced to institutions of higher learning was 87 percent for general high schools and 49.8 percent for vocational high schools. Teacher 10 Benefits of Teaching in South Korea Return Airfare: All teachers can expect to receive free return airfare to and from South Korea unless alternative agreements are made between the teacher and school. Some schools offer pre-paid flights and others offer an airfare reimbursement. Furnished Apartment: Schools in Korea typically provide single studio apartments for their western staff. These apartments are free of charge to the teacher, usually within walking distance of the school and tend to come with the following furnishings; fridge, bed (possible linens), TV, phone, table, chairs, range for cooking and some cooking and eating utensils. Larger cities such as Seoul and Busan tend to offer the smallest apartments. Some apartments may be equipped with their own washing machine and/or an air conditioner. Health Coverage: Schools in Korea are required (by Korean law) to cover 50% of their western staff's health coverage. The remaining 50% of the coverage is deducted from
  • 8. the teacher's monthly salary which usually equates to a minimal 1.5% - 2.5%. Competitive Salary: Salaries vary based on qualifications and desired working locations. Generally speaking, teachers in Korea can expect to earn 1.8 million Won to 2.4 million Won (Currency Converter). Remember: The better schools in desirable locations typically offer lower salaries then other schools with less desirable working conditions and locations. Why? The quality schools with good locations have enough applicants to select from who are willing to work for slightly less in order to gain employment with a credible school and live in a more favorable area. Severance Pay: Most Korean schools provide a severance package to their teachers who complete the full 12 month contract. The Severance pay (also referred to as "The Completion Bonus") will be the equivalent to 1 month's salary. Limited Taxation: Western teachers in Korea can expect to pay only 3% to 5% of their monthly salary to the Korean Revenue Agency. The amount a teacher pays depends on the salary the teacher is making. Schools in Korea will deduct these taxes directly from your monthly salary; therefore, filing tax claims and receipts in Korea is not required. Note: Public school teachers are exempt from paying income taxes during their first 2 years of employment. In order to request the income tax exemption teachers must submit a ‘Residency Certificate’ that was issued by the appropriate government office from their country of citizenship. Pension Plan: Although Korean schools are required to pay into the Korean National Pension scheme, many employers fail to do so because there is no government office in place to monitor or enforce the rule. Please Note: Schools that don't offer the pension plan tend to offer higher salaries to compensate for the difference. Additionally, just because a specific school doesn't pay into the scheme does not mean the school itself is not credible or financially stable; the fact is many established schools with excellent reputations also fail to pay into the scheme. Schools located in the Seoul metro area tend to offer the plan more than schools located in other parts of the country. For teachers who gain employment with schools that provide a pension plan, they can expect to contribute 4.5% of their monthly salary into the plan. The school will match this 4.5% each month for a total of 9% entered over the course of your 12 month contract. The full amount will be reimbursed once you return home. Note: Only Canadian and American teachers are eligible for the pension refund. Teaching Materials: Korean schools supply teaching related resources for their staff. Teaching resources usually include: flashcards, photocopiers, paper, coloring tools, white boards and/or black boards, shared office computers, English related games, CD players and English learning CD's, story books, student books, work books and so on. Each school will provide different resources; therefore, do not expect every school to have all of the items listed above. Overtime Pay: Overtime is usually paid out to teachers who work above and beyond 120 teaching hours per month - this is the industry standard. Overtime is based on the
  • 9. length of the class and the location. Schools in the larger urban areas usually provide 18,000 to 25,000 Won per 50 minute class, and 15,000 to 18,000 Won for classes that are less than 50 minutes. Vacation Time: Private school teachers can expect 2 weeks of paid vacation time in addition to all Korean National Holidays. Public school teachers can expect 4 weeks of paid vacation time in addition to Korean National holidays. Education Finance School for all children between the ages of six and fifteen is free. Senior high schools, for students aged fifteen to eighteen, do charge tuition fees in order to supplement government funding, but these fees do not appear burdensome enough to prevent students from attending. School funding is very centralized, with local school systems deriving 80% of their revenue from the central Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) budget. The local systems are also funded to a much smaller degree through revenue transferred from local governing bodies, internal assets, locally issued bonds, school admission fees and tuition. The Metropolitan and Provincial Offices of Education can spend the money from MEST as they see fit, though it is a matter of funds being transferred to a lower level of the same overall organization rather than an intergovernmental transfer of funds. The central ministry directly funds teachers’ salaries in elementary and lower secondary school as well as preschool programs. Private schools receive a small amount of government funding and subsidies, but are primarily financed through tuition fees and support from private donors and organizations. South Korea spends $7,434 per student at all levels of education, as compared to the OECD average of $8,831. However, this represents 7.6% of South Korea’s GDP spent on education, as compared to the OECD average of 5.9%. This is the second-highest percent of GDP spent on education among OECD countries. EDUCATIONAL ISSUE The Pressures of the South Korean Education System According to a recent survey, South Korean children are the least happy in the developed world – and the reason behind this could be the pressures of the education system they are subjected to. We’ve all experienced the stress of exam periods at some point or another. The cramming, the worrying, the amalgamation of years of hard work and studying essentially boil down to how well you perform in a few silent hours with an exam paper or 12. We know how important exams and education are for helping to secure a
  • 10. successful future, but no culture holds high exam grades and excellent academic performance in such high regard as South Korea. Exam times in South Korea are taken so seriously that everyday life for those who aren’t students is altered. In 2012 road traffic was diverted away from anywhere exams were taking place and airline agendas were altered all to avoid causing distractions for those sitting exams. Police cars were also commandeered at the request of students who ran the risk of arriving late to their exams. This seems like extreme behaviour to anyone outside South Korea, but it matches the intensity of the education system currently in place. South Korea is currently topping the league tables in maths and reading, and is in the top 3 in science, so there is no doubt that the current educational methods are working – but at what cost? There is such an astonishingly high level of national interest in education in South Korea that means a lot of children and teenagers feel pressured at a very young age. Children as young as primary school age are under stress when it comes to their education as they all have an understanding that they need to get into a good university in order to get a good job. It seems as though the vast majority of students regardless of age have the same goal: to get into a good university. It is as though South Korean children are programmed, instead of taught. A lot of children attend hagwons not because public schooling is insufficient, but because there is an immense pressure to be the best and to achieve the most. However, these children often come from a higher social class than others, as 41% of students from Seoul who go to Seoul National University come from the 3 richest districts (out of 25) in Seoul. This puts added pressure on those who cannot afford private education as they now have to compete with those receiving a ‘double education’. Some Korean parents have said that they only have one or two children because the cost of education is so high. Private schooling costs are considerably high regardless of what age the students are, but costs rise as the child gets older. Because getting into a good university is such a high national priority, many parents will put their child education as top priority – therefore can only financially support one for two children. Obama has openly praised South Korea for its education system and the children of South Korea for their daily hours of dedication to studying, perhaps without fully understanding the repercussions. South Korean students have very little time for creative or personal growth as some students study for 12-16 hours a day. Many even study after compulsory school for ‘self-study’ periods. The exams themselves also lack creativity, as they rely more on memorisation than on actively engaging with questions. Schools are controlled and severe due to bureaucracy and pressures created by a schools desire to maximise a student’s CSAT scores.
  • 11. The stress of failure or not meeting demands can be too much for some students, and suicide is not uncommon. South Korea has an extremely high suicide rate, with 40 suicides a day, and intensive education and the need to get into a good university may be a factor, as there is a big income gap between those who hold a degree and those who don’t. Their determination to seek and attain the same goal, of entering and graduating from the best universities may be the cause to their universal unhappiness. Not going to university may be seen as an act of betrayal by some children because their parents pay such a high price for their schooling, and 80% of school leavers go on to attend university. But because graduates outnumber graduate vacancies, unemployment in South Korea is high, with many choosing unemployment over working an unskilled job. However, the problem has been recognised and efforts to reform it have addressed. In 1996, the Korean government introduced a plan to enhance education with ICT in schools. In 2005, distribution and utilisation of ICT in classrooms began. The plan is to move from uniform and standardised learning, to a more creative and diversified approach. Instead of working as a single student, a more co-operative method to share ideas is being put in place. The passivity of the old way of learning is being replaced by active learning through ICT. In the past, a strong student was one who could reproduce what they had learned by precisely duplicating it in a test. But future skills will require not just a good memory, but interaction with data and analysing it, selecting what is useful and then recreating it as their own. In order to help students obtain these skills, a strategy to digitise South Korea’s entire school curriculum is already underway, with plans of completion by 2015. The digital textbooks help students to engage with others and develop their knowledge, rather than simply acquiring it, and a shift from an individual learning process, to more of a group learning collective is key. There is also a tactic in place to set up a system where the students can access lessons and the curriculum at home. This will help to bridge the gap between socio-economic grades and give everyone access to the same material, giving students equal opportunities. These ideas and strategies to help transform the current education system from a stressful, miserable and pressurised duty to a more positive and interactive experience are already underway. They are not fully there yet in terms of improving the happiness of South Korean children, and relieving them of unnecessary pressures, but they are a step in the right direction and a welcomed change in regime.
  • 12. South Korea’s ranking South Koreans are under intense pressure to excel academically. This pressure begins in elementary and consistently becomes more apparent up through high school. Oddly, once a student is accepted to university, more often than not, the intense cramming evaporates and social life becomes paramount.
  • 13. Written report In Educational System and Current Issues (SOUTH KOREA) Submitted by: Raquel Anne Nabong Rebecca Panes Mary Jelhene Rivera BSEd Mathematics 4-1 Submitted by: Prof. Jazz Mateo