March 13, 2019 11:39
Spending on private after-school classes for youngsters has hit a new record as the public education system shows no sign of emerging from its chronic stupor.
Spending on crammers has risen for three years running even though public schools have fewer pupils to prepare for adult life due to the low birthrate.
According to the Education Ministry on Tuesday, the per-capita amount of money spent on private crammers last year reached a record 291,000 a month, up seven percent compared to 2017 (US$1=W1,130).
Total spending on private crammers reached W19.5 trillion, up 4.4 percent compared from a year earlier. Yet the total number of pupils in Korean schools dwindled from 5.73 million in 2017 to 5.58 million last year.
Some 72.8 percent of them went to private after-school classes, up 1.7 percentage points on-year. The proportion was highest among elementary schoolkids with 82.5 percent, followed by 69.6 percent of middle school students and 58.5 percent of high school students.
Some experts blame the Moon Jae-in administration's attempts to reform university entrance exams because parents were spooked by the possible changes, but the truth is that public schools have long given up on the task of providing adequate education for their charges and no government has managed to stir them into action.
Yang Jung-ho at Sungkyunkwan University said, "The incumbent administration made matters worse by failing to fulfill its pledges to reform public education. Public confidence in the government's education policies is at a low ebb, so even more parents turned to private crammers."
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