Based on international knowledge tests, South Korea is
often considered one of the best educational systems in the
world. Private tuition is common alongside the school, and
competition for entry into the most prestigious universities
is very fierce. Education is compulsory for children and
adolescents between 6 and 15 years.
Organization of education in South Korea
The Ministry of Education has the overall national
responsibility for all education. To ensure regional and
local self-government, there are also 16 regional and 182
county offices responsible for preparing and implementing
their own educational regulations. In addition, these units
directly supervise primary and secondary schools. See TOPSCHOOLSINTHEUSA for TOEFL, ACT, SAT testing locations and high school codes in South Korea.
According to the OECD, South Korea spends about 7.6
percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on education,
while the average for all OECD countries is 6.3 percent
(2010). This is the third highest proportion of education
spent among all OECD countries.
In 2009, 37 percent of the country's 15-year-olds
attended private schools. Private schools are mainly
financed through school fees, as well as donations and gifts
from private donors and organizations.
Children start school the year they turn six. Both
primary and secondary school are free and compulsory. The
primary school lasts for six years while the secondary
school lasts for three years. Ethics, Korean, math, science,
social sciences, physical education, music and design are
core topics in primary school. However, local authorities
can also introduce additional subjects.
In secondary school, the teaching of mathematics,
English, Korean, social sciences and natural sciences is
differentiated. In ethics, physical education, music and
design, all students follow the same type of teaching. In
addition, students in secondary school must take several
electives, such as subjects in economics, technology,
information technology, language and the environment.
Together with Singapore, Taiwan and Japan, South Korea is
one of the countries that scored the best in the PISA survey
of 2012. The country's 15-year-olds were ranked number five
in both math and literacy.
The high school lasts for three years. Students can
choose between vocational or study-specializing educational
programs. Those who choose study specialization receive
instruction in the same core subjects as in secondary
school, but the students also choose a specialization in
social studies or science.
According to the OECD, 98 per cent of the population in
the 30-34 age group have completed upper secondary
education. This is the highest proportion of all OECD
countries, where the average age group is 82 per cent.
There are over 370 institutions of higher education.
Seoul National University is considered one of the best
universities in the world.
According to the OECD, 64 per cent of the population in
the age group 30-34 years have higher education. This is the
highest proportion among all OECD countries, with the
average age group being 39 per cent.