February 29, 2016 11:30
Average per-capita spending on private crammers for schoolkids reached W240,000 a month last year, the most since the government began tallying statistics in 2007 (US$1=W1,238).
The statistics were gathered in a survey of 43,000 parents across the nation, but since some of them probably underreported their spending, the total is estimated over W30 trillion overall.
Spending had been inching down since 2009 but started growing again since 2013.
Total spending on private crammers was down 2.2 percent compared to 2014 at W17.8 trillion, but that was because there are fewer students, the Education Ministry said Friday.
The number of students dropped from 6.28 million in 2014 to 6.09 million in 2015, but per-capita spending on private crammers amounted to W240,000 a month last year, up W2,000 from 2014.
Spending on crammers for middle- and high-schoolers rose 1.9 and 2.9 percent.
The government has been making college entrance exams largely reflect lessons taught on state-run educational broadcaster EBS to prevent students from having to pay through the nose at crammers, as well as making the exam easier. But the measures have failed to curb spending on crammers.
After the government banned schools from offering students preps ahead of the regular curriculum, students flocked to private crammers instead.
Spending on extra Korean and English lessons fell one percent and 2.1 percent, but spending on math rose 0.1 percent.
Per-capita spending on math crammers increased the most among high school students, or by W4,000 a month.
Education experts say a government-led scheme to put less focus on English classes and make the subject easier at university entrance exams as of 2018 will reduce the frenzy for English-language cramming, but spending on math crammers is increasing.
Also, spending on sports, art and music lessons is on the rise among parents of elementary schoolchildren who want their kids to have a more rounded education than the public system provides.
It rose from W50,000 per subject in 2014 to W53,000 last year.
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