Republic of Korea

“Education is indispensable to the dignity of man and a sacred duty of all nations. It is to live up to these words - written in its Constitution - that UNESCO set the goal of achieving Education For All. Yet, one hundred thirty million children still struggle to read, write, or do basic math despite going to school. Now is the time for action - international action to achieve quality education for all.” – President Park Geun-hye

Education has played a key role in the political, economic and social progress of the Republic of Korea. The government’s percentage of GDP allocated for education rose from 6.8% in 1999 to 7.6% in 2011.

Thanks to the provision of free and compulsory primary and middle school education, the government has increased and maintained high enrolment rates, with 97% of all children enrolled in primary education since 1980. Since 2000, the middle school enrolment rate generally maintained 95%, and the high school enrolment rate increased from 89.4% in 2000 to 92.6% in 2012.

The percentage of children enrolled in the last grade of primary school who continue their education at the secondary level, also known as the transition rate from primary to secondary education, is on the rise in the Republic of Korea. In fact, this rate has been maintaining 99% since 1990. The transition rate from high school to higher education has also dramatically increased: from 27.1% in 1990 to 71.3% in 2012.

As part of its pledge to champion global education, the Republic of Korea has committed to increasing its official development assistance for education. The country has already granted academic scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students and has built ICT-based teaching facilities in thirty four countries. In 2012, the government dedicated $US 205.2 million, or 17.3% of all Official Development Assistance (ODA) to global education.

The Republic of Korea’s efforts in education are particularly aligned with GEFI’s third priority: to foster global citizenship. This was recently reflected in a revision of the national curriculum, ensuring that it includes key global citizenship concepts, such as democratization, diversity and creativity.

The speed at which the nation adopted and started using information technology in learning environments has been remarkable. Its aim was to empower teachers by providing a PC to every teacher from 1996 to 2000. As a result, Korea has now one of the best ICT education infrastructures among OECD countries, such as multimedia classrooms in schools and vast improvements to internet connection speeds.

To meet the demands of today’s high-tech industrial society, new policy measures have been adopted to encourage innovation. This includes research and internship programs for teachers, student exchange programs, increased resources for research, and partnerships between schools and industry. 

September 2014 marked the first time that world leaders from all regions of the world joined together in support of quality education. Speaking at GEFI’s high-level event ‘Quality Education for the World We Want’; Heads of Governments and UN Agencies stressed the importance of putting quality education at the heart of the post-2015 development agenda.

Listen to the remarks made by H.E. Ms. Park Geun-hye, President, at the Global Education First Initiative's high-level event 'Quality Education for the World We Want'

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