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South Korea’s education system

From the teachers mouth

We spoke to Chelsea, a former teacher who worked in South Korea during her career: 
“My most regarded memories are of strict atmospheres, that are focused on standardised curriculums. The main difference I noticed was the behaviour of the students. Students were very well-behaved during lesson time and would go wild in the 10-minute break.
I believe South Korea puts too much pressure on the students, it’s very normal for students to attend extra lessons at hagwons before and after school, on the weekends and over school holidays so that they can achieve the best results. Most of my students attended hagwon 6-7 days a week and would stay up until midnight everyday so that they could be the top of their class. 
I think there’s a lot that Western education systems can learn from South Korea. What resonated with me was how the students were assigned responsibility. They did everything from helping distribute and clean up lunches, to even cleaning toilets. The school I worked at had over 800 students and only one cleaner, yet the school was always immaculately clean” 

Long hours

In South Korea, the average school day starts at 8am and officially finishes at 4pm. However, it is assumed that many students will finish (working for the day) between 10pm and midnight. Long hours are driven by the highly competitive nature of the South Korean education system, deemed to be one of the most demanding in the world. 
In South Korea it is common practice to attend ‘hagwon’ (private after school learning programs). These aid students looking to refine higher education and English skills.

The cost of education

Education is free in South Korea between the ages of 5-15. When students start attending Geodeung Haggyo (secondary school) fees are applied. These cover the cost of tuition, uniform, transport and school materials under the state system. 
For those students who attend private school, tuition fees are even higher, ranging from $15,000 to $30,000 per year. Most private schools in South Korea are international schools and these are generally of a higher standard and extremely difficult to secure a place within.

“Teachers are as high as God”

Yes, you read that correctly. In South Korea teachers are extremely highly regarded, they are well valued and respected by members of society.
Could you imagine changing school every 4 years? In South Korea this practice in mandatory for all teachers as it offers students a wide array of teaching throughout the years, as well as exposing teachers to diverse school environments. 

Suneung – College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT)

The CSAT are college entrance exams which can only be taken once during the year. These exams tests student’s ability in Korean, English, Maths, Social Studies, Science and more.  
Fun fact: on the day of the Suneung, airplanes are grounded during the listening portion of the test to allow students to focus on their exams. For students running late to their CSAT’s, the local police cars offer lifts to escort them to school!


The cost of a world class education system

South Korea reports the highest-ranking stress levels of students in a survey of the top 20 developed nations. Unfortunately, their student suicide rate is among the highest in the world, with 17 out of 100,000 students committing suicide after poor performance. 
Students don’t experience the “healthy” balance of school, play and sleep that other nations students do. Less traditional subjects including sports and arts are a low priority, and the overall support for student’s social life isn’t present.
Despite these issues, 97% of students graduated from high school in 2017, the highest graduation rate in the world. 

STAy inspired

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