Government’s responsibility for education

Strengthening the publicness of early childhood education

With a view to increasing the national responsibility for early childhood education, 3,390 classrooms at national and public kindergartens were expanded from 2018 to 2021. In 2018, the Nuri Curriculum at daycare centers began to be fully funded by the government; the unit price for the Nuri Curriculum was increased (220,000 won from 2013 to 2019 → 240,000 won in 2020 → 260,000 won in 2021). Parents do not need to pay tuition. Since 2019, all kindergartens have implemented a common enrollment system, which is called ‘Cheoeumhakgyoro’ to enhance both enrollment fairness and parents’ convenience. In 2020, three kindergarten-related acts were amended, and the National Accounting Management System was introduced for publicness and accounting transparency in private kindergartens.

Providing full day care setting

In 2018, we created the Full Day Care Action Plan in line with the rise of dual-income households and nuclear families. Afterschool programs in elementary schools and community centers increase every year. Since June 2020, afterschool application has been available on a government services portal, which is called ‘Jeongbu 24.’

Realizing fee-free high school education

In order to solidify the government’s role in elementary and secondary education and mitigate the burden of education costs, we adopted free high school education. As the plan was accomplished one year ahead of schedule, 490,000 grade 12 students got benefited in the second semester of 2019, 850,000 grade 11 and grade 12 students, in 2020, and all high school students (1.24 million), in 2021. We cleared nearly 1.6 million won in annual tuition and were able to fulfill free education in elementary, middle, and high schools in 2021.

Reducing college tuition burden

In 2020, 3.44 trillion won in national scholarships was distributed to 10.37 million college students, 48.2% of a total of 21.53 million students enrolled. Also, we slash student loan interest rates (2.5% in the first semester of 2017 → 1.7% in the first semester of 2021). Since 2018, national and public colleges have not charged entrance fees; private colleges and cyber colleges began lowering entrance fees in 2019 and 2020, respectively. In 2023, there will be no college entrance fees.

Systematic transition to future education

Building the 2022 Revised Curriculum

Committed to helping children grow into people with tolerance and creativity—which the future needs, the 2022 Revised Curriculum is under preparation. The 2022 Revised Curriculum is geared to leverage competencies that will move their career and life forward. Curriculum autonomy in the region and school will be assured. Personalized learning and assessment will also be enabled by digital or AI-based environments. Public participation is conducted in developing the 2022 Revised Curriculum, which is anticipated to raise awareness about the importance of education and change a paradigm.

Enforcing the high school credit system

The high school credit system has just been introduced so that students can choose the right subjects for their future career path. In 2021, about 1,459 high schools (60%) adopt the credit system as a pilot. We assist in the management of the credit system for individual schools by expanding joint courses between schools—online and offline (4,933 in 2021) and districts in which colleges and local institutions are engaged (34 in 2021). The credit system was first applied to meister high schools in 2020 and will be applied to specialized vocational high schools in 2022, to regular high schools in 2023., and to all high schools in 2025.

Creating Green Smart Future Schools

With an 18.5 trillion won budget, from 2021 through 2025, approximately 1,400 old schools will be renovated. Transformation to a school where innovative, future-oriented learning and teaching is available will be made. Futuristic schools will contain flexible learning spaces, smart classrooms, and eco-friendly facilities and will be connected with social overhead capital.

Higher education innovation based on sharing and cooperation

Focusing on regional innovation under local government-college collaboration

With regional colleges on the decline, through the Municipality-College Cooperation-based Regional Innovation Project, we have built regional innovation platforms (3 platforms, 4 cities and provinces in 2020 → 4 platforms, 8 cities and provinces in 2021) since 2020. Fueled by our support, regional colleges will widen relations with local governments as well as enterprises and research centers, cultivate local talent, and succeed in innovation, thereby contributing to balanced regional growth.

Nurturing high tech talent

In order for colleges to share educational resources and curriculum with other institutions and to combine their capabilities for the development of talent in the field of digital technologies, since 2021, we have carried out the College for New Digital Technology and Innovation Project. Consortiums were formed in eight categories, including artificial intelligence, big data, and next-generation semiconductor—to share human and material resources among colleges, corporations, and research institutes and also to present academic programs by level.

We allow colleges to flexibly increase the number of admitted students in departments associated with the high-tech sector (2,003 students, 33 schools in 2022; 4,761 students, 45 schools in 2021) within the existing quota, cultivate talented people, and boost competitiveness.

Fostering human resources tailored to industrial needs

For the purpose of producing innovative talent whom the industry needs, we strengthen academic and industry partnerships, such as capstone design and field training. In 2021, providing 130 colleges with support, the LINC+ Project helps participating colleges develop and operate industrial customized courses and expands the Early Employment Program (1,829 students, 1,469 companies in 2021), where admitted students are guaranteed employment and cooperative education is available.

Cultivating specialized technical talent

To nurture highly skilled professionals, we introduced a higher vocational education model, ‘meister college’ at junior colleges. Meister colleges operate a systematic, job-oriented, advanced curriculum ranging from short-term job-oriented courses to associate degrees, intensive major courses, and specialized technical master's courses. Currently, a consortium comprising five schools participate in the 2021-2022 pilot project, receiving 10 billion won.

In 2021, the New Industry Leading Junior College Support Project selected 12 schools to create a curriculum that adapts to the trend of the times and improve an educational environment.

Lifelong learning competencies for all citizens of Korea

Ensuring sustainable lifelong learning for all citizens, we offer a wide range of new methodologies suited for learners’ interests, including liberal arts lecture series (200 episodes, 40 foreign scholars) and life lessons from experts through K-MOOC. The Lifelong Education Voucher Support Project serves as a bridge for lifelong learning by giving educational opportunities to low-income people (8,000 in 2020; 15,000 in 2021). Furthermore, we strive for the Lifelong Learning Information System, which features the management of learning and training history and the provision of customized content.

Fairness and transparency by restoring trust in education

Reorganizing the high school system and promoting fairness in college admissions

We will fix critical and current issues—intense competition, overheated tutoring, and school castes—and will reshape the high school system, where every student is able to receive education based on career planning. Autonomous, foreign language, and international schools, which have the student selection right, will be converted into regular schools by 2025.

The Measure for a Fair College Admissions Process was proclaimed in November 2019. We will streamline the admissions process with a focus on school reports and the College Scholastic Ability Test; we will make school record admissions more transparent and will regain trust from students and parents.

Reforming private schools

In December 2019, the government announced the Private School Reform Plan, whose objectives are transparency in private school accounting, school foundation accountability, and the publicness of private schools. Accordingly, we steadily push forward with law revisions to strengthen systems for temporary directors and teacher disciplinary and standards for the revocation of the approval of appointed members of the board of directors who have committed accounting fraud.

A comprehensive audit of 16 large private colleges that have not been audited since 2019 is scheduled to be completed until 2021. Our support for private school reform, which started in 2021, will bring about private school development and accounting transparency.

Groundwork for social policy cooperation

In a complex and diverse society, under the leadership of the Deputy Prime Minister, we broaden and deepen cooperative networks with other ministries and coordinate pending matters. The strategic vision and roadmap for social policies were determined via the Social Policy Implementation Plan towards an Inclusive Society in February 2019 and the 2021 Social Policy Direction in January 2021. We play a pivotal role in inter-ministry connections and communication by arranging ministerial meetings. To forge the process of pan-government collaboration regarding human resources, we continue to suggest different types of agenda items, like the Top 10 Tasks for Investments in People in April 2019 and the Council on Investing in People and Nurturing Talent since May 2019.