South Korea: An Exemplary Example of Education (?)

The education system of South Korea has emerged as the “best” in recent times. Almost all the major news channels and agencies are discussing nothing but South Korea’s tremendous development. Very few countries have beaten the country in the past 50 years. In a very short time, its economy grew by leaps and bounds, the government underwent a drastic change and today Korean soap operas and movies have fans all over the world. A major reason behind this development is the country’s education system. The rigorous and competitive system makes sure that it gets the most out of its students.

248701-south-korea-university-examThe education system is pretty mainstream with schools divided into pre-primary, primary, middle school and high school. The difference lies in the treatment of the students by the authorities. The subjects taught in schools include Korean writing, Korean listening, Korean reading, Korean speaking, algebra, geometry, science, social studies, Korean history, fine arts, English (from the third grade), Physical Education (PE), moral education, practical arts, and music. The middle school marks a primary transition for a student and she is expected to take studies much more seriously than before. More than 95% students opt for independent-owned, after-school tutoring agencies for a better academic performance. If middle school sounds tough, high school is even more challenging. Many students leave home at 5am and return well after 10pm and return to specialty study schools often to 2am; a normal school day for them. Even weekends are not spared. The schedule of high school students is so crammed up that it is not abnormal for students to return home at 3am after studying. Inspite of the government’s efforts to crack down this system so that students can lead a balanced life, many agencies continue to operate. No nation perhaps has a higher enthusiasm for education than South Korea and nowhere are children more pressured to study.

This rigorous system might have brought waves of development in South Korea but the system has pushed itself way past its limits to achieve such results. Students’ capacity and stamina are pushed to the extreme when it comes to studies. It is a kind of national obsession which strongly influence a person’s suitability for employment, marriage and inter-personal relationships. If the system is responsible for South Korea’s growth, it is also responsible for “lowering innovation” and is also attributed to high suicide rate in the country. This obsession is deeply ingrained into the mind of the people and it will take a long time to overcome this grave problem. An education system is meant to impart education among its citizens, not to make them work like lifeless machines.


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