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홈 Policies & Programs Key Policies Major Tasks

Major Tasks

Major Tasks
Rate of Advancement to Next-Level School
Elementary to Middle Middle to High High to Tertiary
100% 99.7% 70.8%
School Statistics
Rate of Advancement to Next-Level School
Grand Total Kindergarten Elementary School Course Middle School Course High School Course
No. of Students 6,785,921 682,553 2,714,610 1,588,110 1,800,648
No. of Teachers 480,009 50,998 182,658 111,257 135,096
No. of Schools 20,520 8,930 5,978 3,219 2,393
Special School Miscellaneous School Junior College Course Under Graduate Course Graduate School
No. of Students 25,536 8,470 769,403 2,505,190 333,478
No. of Teachers 8,542 964 14,165 67,499 8,551
No. of Schools 167 42 160 226 1197*
Students per Class
Students per Class
2000 2005 2010 2015
Kindergarten 26.3 24.2 21.0 20.0
Elementary School 35.8 31.8 26.6 22.6
Middle School 38.0 35.3 33.8 28.9
High School 42.7 32.7 33.7 30.0
Students per Teacher
Students per Teacher
2000 2005 2010 2015
Kindergarten 19.5 17.5 14.8 13.4
Elementary School 28.7 25.1 18.7 14.9
Middle School 20.1 19.4 18.2 14.3
High School 19.9 15.1 15.5 13.2

[Happy Education for All Students]

Free Semester

The Free Semester is a one-semester system in middle schools that aims to enhance the happiness and well-being of students by giving them opportunities to explore dreams and aptitudes through participatory instructions, diverse learning experiences, and flexible curricula. Students are encouraged to develop key competencies through experience-based activities (e.g., discussions, science labs, project-based learning) and Free Semester activities (e.g., career exploration, theme-based learning, fine arts/physical activities, club activities). The Free Semester has been implemented since 2016 in middle schools nationwide, and Korea expects to achieve happy education by enhancing students' satisfaction in schools, parents' faith in public education, teachers' satisfaction at work, and so forth.

The 2015 Revised Curriculum

In 2015, the Ministry of Education announced the 2015 Revised National Curriculum with an aim to nurture a creative and integrative learner, as part of the central goals to normalize public education. This curriculum focuses learning on key competencies that creative and integrative learners should acquire, such as self-management competency, knowledge-information processing skills, creative thinking skills, aesthetic-emotional competency, communication skills, and civic competency. In particular, it aims to raise creative and integrative learners by integrating liberal arts and national sciences tracks in high schools, where in the past, the two tracks provided separate, standardized curricula. The 2015 Revised National Curriculum reinforces Software (SW) education to raise intelligent learners who can lead the future creativity-based society. This curriculum is expected to take effect by school levels (e.g., elementary, middle, and high schools) starting 2017.

Character Education and Fine Arts/Physical Education

Korea promotes character education to raise intelligent learners who are able to communicate well with others and have balanced growth of strength, virtue, and wisdom. These are reinforced through the Character Education Promotion Act (2015) and the Character Education 5 Year Comprehensive Plan (2016). Based on a distinctive character education plan, schools are encouraged to implement experience and project-based curricula, providing 1 sports activity per student and 1 music instrumental instruction per student.
In addition, Korea aims to raise all teachers as professionals in character education and build their capacity to support them to become key persons in establishing school-based character education. The government announced 2016 to be the first year to implement such character education, and campaigns have been disseminated nationwide through advertisement and so forth to establish a consensus among citizens.

Promoting Competencies in General High Schools

In order to provide diverse learning opportunities that are relevant for general high school students' talents, aptitudes, and career plans, plans with regard to competence-based projects are currently being organized. This is, in a sense, to remedy relatively less support given to general high school students, despite the fact that they account for about 70% of all high school students nationwide. The Ministry of Education aims to grant autonomy to general high schools to organize and implement curriculum and support Subject Core Schools, in which schools provide intensive learning in particular subjects such as science, arts, economics, and so forth. Moreover, "Intensive Career Education Semester" is facilitated in the first semester of first grade in high school (10th grade) to provide career counseling, field work experience, mentoring, and so forth.

Reliable and Respectable Teachers

Korea is currently working towards implementing diverse educational policies to create a better work environment for teachers that can enhance their professional knowledge, supporting their conditions to focus on classroom instructions. In order to improve teachers' tacit knowledge, professional development and in-service training are provided to all teachers, based on their teaching experience. Teachers with more than 10 years of teaching experience have an opportunity to take an "unpaid leave of absence" for personal development and opportunities to restore energy. Moreover, school administrative personnels are assigned to reduce teachers' administrative work and help them focus on class teaching. Stories of outstanding teachers are widely disseminated to create a culture where teachers are respected.

College Admissions that Reflects School Education

College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT) in Korean society is a highly reliable and objective college screening resource that not only affects college admissions but also primary and secondary education. In this regard, CSAT is created on the basis that "exam questions are challenging enough for students, yet they can solve them if they have completed the national curriculum" to prevent creating a highly competitive environment to receive a high CSAT score. Moreover, Admission Information Guide for All (ADIGA: adiga.kr) provides information regarding universities/majors and college admission requirements/qualifications to encourage students to independently search and compare college admissions information and find schools that meet their expectations. College admission counselors in schools are also promoted to help students prepare for college admissions without relying on private education.

2012 PISA Performance in Mathematics, Reading and Science

[Raising Intelligent Learners for Society]

Structural Reforms in Universities

Due to a rapid decrease in the population of school-aged children, Korea is facing a new challenge to deal with lack of college students (e.g., first year college students) in universities, and thus the need for a structural reform in universities is on the rise. In response to this, Korea is administering a university-level structural reform evaluation until 2022 to reduce a total of 160,000 student quota on a rank and stage-basis. Universities placed in the lower rank on the evaluation receive limited financial support and are requested to reorganize the bacherlor's program. Consulting is provided as a means to help universities independently restructure the institution. Based on the consulting result, universities at the marginal-level may be required to change the university function to a non-profit foundation or a vocational education institution.

Reorganizing Secondary Education to Meet the Expectations of Society

Due to a rapid decrease in the number of school-aged children, Korea has employed PRIME (PRogram for Industrial needs-Matched Education), a program that supports students to advance into society by providing quality programs and restructuring universities. In the past, there has been a disparity between intelligent learners universities raise and human resources society needs, and thus lowering the employment rate of young adults/youths. In this regard, PRIME has been implemented to resolve such issues. Participating universities undertake restructuring of the university in rational ways to meet the expectation of the society, and provide educational contents that are high quality.
On the other hand, the Ministry of Education also provides CORE (initiative for COllege of humanities' Research and Education) that trains intelligent learners in the field of humanities to meet the expectations of the society. The government supports CORE for an extended period of time, and universities are encouraged to develop the field of humanities with autonomy, based on distinctive characteristics of the university.

Support for University Students' Start-ups and Employment

In recent years, diverse programs that support start-ups of university students have been on the rise since a high unemployment rate of young adults/youth became an serious issue. Therefore, the Ministry of Education plans to develop and implement a customized curriculum through the collaboration of universities and industrial sectors and extend the number of students in "majors geared toward social demand" that helps graduated students to find jobs for 15,000 students by 2017. Moreover, outstanding start-up clubs will be supported to launch a company.

Work-Study Dual System

The Work-Study Dual System was introduced to raise intelligent learners with high job-related skills that the industrial sectors need, and the school-business partnership was implemented to help students learn and study both in classroom and at work (60 schools as of 2016). Schools that wish to carry out this "Uni-Tech" system can organize and implement a curriculum by collaborating with an industrial sector, and graduates of the school can land jobs after high school and go into higher education later. Moreover, all Specialized High Schools and Meister High Schools can implement a curriculum on the basis of NCS (National Competency Standards) to help students acquire relevant knowledge and skills needed in the industrial sectors.

Employment First, Advancement to University Later

In order to create a competence-based society that values capabilities over backgrounds, the government attempts to promote the "Employment First, Advancement to University Later" system. Here, the government plans to increase opportunities for high school students to find a job, if they wish, through career education by 2022. Moreover, the government supports field-based and skills-based education and employment of high-quality jobs for high school graduates. Lifelong education is provided to expand educational opportunities later, which is promoted through establishing lifelong education majors in certain universities.

[Education that Leaves No Child Behind]

Edu-Care Service

As double-income families are on the rise, and the need of childcare services are becoming important, the government has implemented the Edu-Care Service for elementary schools (240,000 students receive services as of 2015). The Edu-Care Service are provided after-school, where students are provided with snacks and instructions (e.g., aptitude-based classes) by Edu-Care teachers and university student volunteers. Parents' satisfaction has reached 94.8% in 2015, and surveys conducted by KEDI (Korean Educational Development Institute) indicated Edu-Care Service as one of the best and necessary educational policies in 2015.

The Nuri Curriculum

The Nuri Curriculum is a common curriculum for three to five-year-olds, which helps children to develop balanced growth of mind and body, and to nurture good character in becoming a democratic citizen. The government has supported the Nuri Curriculum to respond to the low birth rate and to reduce parents' financial burden in supporting their child(ren)'s education (1,300,000 children or 93.2% of all children are supported as of 2015). Such support has provided children at the early stage of life to receive quality education in a conducive environment.

Educational Support for Students with Disadvantaged Background

In order to provide high-quality education to all students, regardless of their family's socioeconomic status, ability, and so forth, the government has endeavored to achieve equal opportunities. This educational support for students with disadvantaged background is becoming more personalized, extending to financial aid for students with disadvantaged background, assisting students with diverse needs including North Korean students, students from multicultural family, students with disability, and so forth.

Prevention of School Drop-outs

In the case a student drops out of public education, it is difficult to provide proper alternative education while it is easier for him/her to be exposed to delinquent situations. As a result, school dropout management at the national level has become prominent. The Ministry of Education provides counseling, career exploration activities, time for reflection, and so forth to students at risk of dropping out of public education, and supports an academic suspension period. Furthermore, opportunities for alternative education such as alternative classes and alternative school programs are becoming more inclusive, supporting individuals with difficulties adjusting to academics.

Eased Cost Burden for Education

In order to normalize public education and to reduce students' and parents' financial burden regarding private education, Korea has enacted the Public Education Normalization Promotion Act. It prohibits teaching students to the test, solely to help students receive a high score on school assessments and university entrance exams, and bans education contents and test items that require preemptive learning beyond regular school teaching. Moreover, to handle rampant private tutoring, which has been a major social problem in Korea for the last half century, every school is required to be screened by curriculum audit council of regional education office on its curriculum management.
The government also aims to relieve students' tuition down to the half of current level. The government attempts to lower interest rate under the average inflation level with extra budget support, particularly for students from lower-income households.

National Budget for After-school Programs (billion won)
National Budget for After-school Programs (billion won)
2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
4,673 5,200 5,468 5,755 4,630
The Cyber Home Learning System
The Cyber Home Learning System
2013 2014
No. of Members 4,236,134 2,633,078
No. of user per a day 104,929 73,836
EBS SAT Lecture
The Cyber Home Learning System
2013 2014
No. of Members 4,315,512 2,196,085
No. of user per a day 632,210 704,322

[Safe School Environment]

End of Child Abuse

The school violence has been an imperative issue in Korea for the past decades, showing a rapid increase in number and degree of intensity. Thus, in an effort to improve the prevention measure, the government launched a comprehensive review system along with a comprehensive management/response manual to immediately find the child's location and safety if he/she is not enrolled in compulsory education or is absent for an extended period of time. The government's 2016 End of Child Abuse Plan is expected to fortify the Child Protection Safety Net and designate a Safe Zone to continuously manage and examine children's safety.

Creating a Safe and Pleasant School Environment

As Korea underwent tragedies such as Sewol Ferry and MERS incidents, the government enacted laws and systems to ensure safe learning opportunities in and outside the school and to resolve fundamental problems. In this context, the government established a medium-and-long term plan with regard to prevention of school accidents, having school principals map a school accident prevention plan. In all schools, a chief safety officer is appointed, who carries out professional development sessions on safety education to all school members. Moreover, "Safe Life" textbooks are developed and implemented at the elementary-level to help students learn about issues regarding safety in the early grades; they are provided with experience-based safety training and classes.
Through a comprehensive safety inspection, school facilities that can induce danger are examined, including removing asbestos that can be harmful to students and remodeling/improving old school facilities to ultimately create a pleasant school environment.

Preventing School Violence

Korea addressed "school violence" as one of the four negative influences, and endeavors to create a happy and safe environment. At the school-level, the Wee project is launched to promote collaborative activities, violence prevention activities, experience-based learning. The government also provides care for victimized students for the fast recovery from the memory of violence as well as support programs for students considered teen assailants. Schools are to resolve factors that can stimulate school violence from the perspective of CPTED, and create a school environment that is safe by assigning school police officers, student guards, and so forth. Furthermore, evaluations to examine students' cognitive and social/emotional health are promoted along with an obligatory education that teaches students to respect life in order to identify students at risk of committing suicide for intensive and systematic care.

[Korean Education that Harmonizes with the World]

Enhancing Educational Competitiveness through International Cooperation

The Ministry of Education strategically promotes bilateral education cooperation, in consideration of developing and developed countries' level of development and characteristics of continents and regions. For instance, it endeavors to identify strengths of education cooperation fields in developed countries such as EU and France to promote Korea's global educational competitiveness, and contribute to the expansion of education in developing countries (e.g., Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and the Central and South America) by sharing the outstanding examples of the Korean case.
The Ministry of Education aims to improve the qualitative aspect of education and extend Korea's educational competitiveness in the international context by facilitating multilateral education cooperation with international organizations such as OECD, ASEM, APEC, and so forth. At the same time, the Ministry of Education also endeavors to reinforce global educational leadership by expanding the cooperation basis with underdeveloped countries through UNESCO and ASEAN.
From 2009 to 2016, Korea signed a total of 41 MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with 31 countries around the world.
Since Korea hosted the World Education Forum 2015, Korea's prestigious academic achievement and reputable education system have received tremendous attention around the world. In response to this international interest, the government aims to extend the "World Friends Korean Teachers" program in 2016. In previous years, about 20 teachers were sent to a few developing countries for 11 months, yet the government attempts to expand the program to support about 300 teachers (including pre-service teachers, in-service teachers, retired teachers) in various countries of need. Furthermore, Korea hosted the first Korea-Japan-China Education Ministers' Meeting (Trilateral Education Cooperation) in January 2016, and is expected to launch the 6th ASEM Education Ministers' Meeting in May 2017 to extend education cooperation in the international context.

Global Citizenship Education

As Korea hosted the World Education Forum 2015, it suggested Global Citizenship Education (GCED) as the world's educational agenda, striving to raise responsible global citizens. GCED aims to help individuals understand and practice universal values of mankind such as world peace, human rights, cultural diversity, and so forth. In order to expand the importance of GCED, Korea plans to develop GCED models tailored to the Korean educational environment, create relevant educational resources, support developing countries, and promote international cooperation network.

Expansion of ODA and Exchange of Global Competent Persons

The Ministry of Education promotes the development of competence of individuals in developing countries by making commitments to increase its ODA volume. Based on decisions made by the international development cooperation committee, funds are strategically allocated to 24 designated countries on the basis of select and concentration principle. This is to improve the aid effectiveness and achieve the national goal of 70% support. The Ministry of Education also facilitates education cooperation with Africa, and establishes ODA projects that reflect the needs of the recipient country.
The Ministry of Education also promotes programs for ODA that are relevant to Education 2030 and development cooperation to accomplish SDG 4.
In order to improve the educational competitiveness of higher education, the Ministry of Education attempts to establish a policy-base, extending study-abroad programs for foreign students and strategically promoting GKS (Global Korea Scholarship) to invite foreign students to study in Korea. Customized curricula for foreign students are provided to improve the study-abroad environment, supporting their academics, life, employment, and so forth in Korea.
The Ministry of Education also aims to improve Korea's educational competitiveness through establishing foreign institutions and supporting foreign schools to enhance the settlement environment for foreigners, and meet the needs of diverse educational needs.