June 14, 2016 09:32
One in every five elementary schools across the country takes in fewer than 10 new children this year as the birthrate drops and the population ages.
According to the Education Ministry on Monday, 1,395 or 22.4 percent of the 6,218 elementary schools in the country accepted fewer than 10 first-year students this year.
This was particularly marked in rural or fishing communities, which are dying out.
North Gyeongsang and South Jeolla provinces topped the list with 217 elementary schools each. Next came North Jeolla Province (187), Gangwon Province (179), and South Gyeongsang Province (165).
Secondary schools are also thinning out. Some 335 middle schools and 16 high schools across the country had fewer than 10 first-year students this year, according to the ministry.
The Office of Education in North Gyeongsang Province said the number of schoolchildren in the region is expected to fall about 17.2 percent by 2030 and there are many primary and secondary schools with fewer than 10 new students.
"The trend could affect students' learning and their peer relationship," a ministry official warned. "The regional offices of education need to merge schools based on ministry guidelines."
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