March 27, 2017 08:31
Average monthly spending on private crammers for schoolkids have hit a fresh record since the government began tallying statistics in 2007.
Total spending had been declining due to a decrease in the overall number of students, but even that was reversed last year. Even the recession was unable to still the growing hunger for private tuition as public schools seem less and less able to meet the needs of their charges.
The Education Ministry last week announced the figures based on a survey of 1,483 schools and 43,000 parents.
Spending on private crammers reached W18 trillion last year, up 1.3 percent compared to 2015 (US$1=W1,123). The total rose even though student numbers dwindled from 6.08 million to 5.88 million amid the shrinking birthrate.
Per-capita expenditure has risen for four years in a row, soaring 4.8 percent last year to W256,000. Per-capita spending on private math, English and Korean lessons only inched up 0.6 percent, but instead parents forked out 19.5 percent more on physical education like swimming and yoga and on art classes, which was the main reason for the increase in overall expenditures.
Critics say the government's statistics still fail to reflect the real figures. The state-run Korea Development Institute estimates that parents spend more than W30 trillion a year on extracurricular tuition if private tutoring and overseas language courses are included.
Another noticeable trend is a widening gap between high and low-income households. Wealthy parents spent more on private crammers than the year before but low-income parents cut back on spending last year.
Average monthly spending on private tuition among parents earning more than W7 million a month rose 5.6 percent to W443,000 a month, and among parents earning W6-7 million 1.2 percent to W365,000. But parents who earn less than W6 million a month cut back on spending.
The aim remains the same as ever -- to get their children into prestigious universities as their job prospects grow tougher and tougher.
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