March 16, 2012 11:55
The number of schoolchildren in Korea dropped below 7 million last year for the first time since 1967 as a result of the dwindling birthrate, and will keep shrinking. The total last year was 6.98 million.
According to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology on Thursday, there were 3.13 million primary schoolchildren, 1.91 million middle schoolers and 1.94 million high school students as of April 2011. Records have been kept since 1965, when the total number was 6.11 million. It exceeded 7 million in 1968.
The number of students peaked at 9.99 million in 1982, when the baby boomers entered full-time education.
This decline is likely to accelerate. The ministry says there are 450,000-470,000 children each in the first, second and third years of elementary school, about 200,000 fewer than the 650,000 in each of the three years of high school. If the birthrate remains low, experts believe that the total number of pupils will drop to 5.5 million over the next 10 years.
On the other hand, the number of teachers in at schools nationwide was 422,000 last year, up 96,000 from 1991, improving the teacher-student ratio to the level of advanced countries.
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