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Education

Koreans have traditionally placed great importance on education as a means for self-fulfillment as well as for social advancement. Modern schools were first introduced in the 1880s. After the founding of the Republic of Korea in 1948, the government began to establish a modern educational system, making six years of elementary school attendance mandatory since 1953.

Today, Korea boasts one of the highest literacy rates in the world. An emphasis on education is often cited as a primary source for Korea's rapid economic growth over the past four decades as it has produced the scientists, engineers and specialists needed as well as a well-educated labor pool generally.

The School System

Elementary school pupils show their paintings of Dokdo, Korea's easternmost territory
Elementary school pupils show their paintings of Dokdo, Korea's easternmost territory
The school system in the Republic of Korea consists of one to three-year pre-schools and kindergartens, six-year elementary schools, three-year middle schools, three-year high schools, and four-year colleges and universities, which also offer graduate courses leading to Ph.D. degrees. There are also two- to three-year junior colleges and vocational colleges. Elementary schooling is compulsory with an enrollment rate of nearly 100 percent. Three more years of compulsory middle school education have been implemented nationwide since 2002. 
 
Although preschool education is not yet compulsory, its importance has been increasingly recognized in recent years. Preschool education is regarded as very important in terms of helping pull up the low birth rate, resolving social polarization, and allowing a greater number of women to work outside the home.

The number of kindergartens in Korea grew from 901 in 1980 to 8,294 in 2007. Since 1999, the Government has carried out a nationwide project to subsidize education fees for five-year-olds from low-income families. This was followed by a sliding scale subsidy for three- to four-year-olds in 2004 and a program to support education fees for households with two or more children. These measures have provided underprivileged children increased opportunities for preschool education, establishing a more equitable educational environment.
 
The average number of students per teacher in elementary schools stood at 58.8 in 1960. This figure was further cut to 24.0 in 2006. Elementary school teacher candidates are required to graduate from a four-year teachers' university or obtain an undergraduate degree in primary education from either Ewha Womans University or the Korea National University of Education.

Middle school students studying chemistry in their laboratory
Middle school students studying chemistry in their laboratory
Upon completion of elementary school, children in the 12 to 14 age group enter middle school for the seventh to ninth grades. The student-teacher ratio for middle schools in 2006 was 19.4:1, while the comparable figure for 1975 was 43.2:1. 
 
There are two types of high schools in the Republic: general and vocational. Applicants for vocational high schools (covering agriculture, engineering, commerce, maritime studies and home economics) are admitted through examinations administered by each school. The curriculum at vocational high schools is usually 40-60 percent general courses with the remainder being vocational. As of 2007, there were 702 vocational high schools with 494,011 students. Among general high schools, there are several specialized high schools in the arts, physical education, science, and foreign languages. The goal of these schools is to provide appropriate education for students with special talents in these fields. 
 
Courses at general high schools tend to center around preparation for entering universities. As of 2007, there were 1,457 general high schools with 1.35 million students. Combining the two types of high schools, the ratio of middle school graduates advancing to high school was 99.6 in 2007.
 
University students on campus
University students on campus
There are several different types of institutions of higher learning in the Republic: colleges and universities with four-year undergraduate programs (six years for medical and dental colleges), four-year teachers' universities, two-year junior colleges, a broadcasting and correspondence university, open universities, and miscellaneous schools with college status with two- or four-year programs. As of 2007, there were 408 institutions of higher learning in Korea, with a total of 3.56 million students and 70,957 faculty members. 
 
 Colleges and universities in Korea operate under strict enrollment limits. In selecting students, colleges and universities make use of the student's high school records and national standardized test results.

Special Education and Non-Formal Education

The disabled receive vocational training
The disabled receive vocational training
People with disabilities may obtain an education in special schools as well as special and general classes within general schools. In 2007, a total of 65,944 students with disabilities received special education. Of this number, 22,963 students were given instruction in special schools, and 42,977 were mainstreamed in special and general classes in regular schools. 
 
As of 2007, there were 144 special schools for persons with disabilities in the nation. These included seven for emotionally disturbed students, 12 for students with visual impairments, 18 for students with hearing impairments, 18 for students with physical disabilities and 89 for students with limited mental development. 
 
With an increasing awareness of the needs of people with disabilities, there is also a growing effort to mainstream them in general schools. More and more general schools are appointing special education support staff and building facilities for students with disabilities.  In order to accommodate students who have chronic problems, the government is also promoting the establishment of hospital schools. 
 
To improve the quality of special education, the government established the Korea Institute for Special Education in 1994, which has been responsible for conducting research on special education and enhancing public awareness of the needs of those with disabilities.

E-Learning started influencing society by simply providing materials and improving educational methods. It is leading to the development of a ubiquitous-based educational system.

 
 

  General Information of Korea  
   Facts and Figures of Korea
· Country Name : Republic of Korea · Capital City : Seoul (10.1 million) · National flag : Taegeukgi · National flower : Mugunghwa (Rose of Sharon) · Currency : won · Language : Korean (Written form: Hangeul) · Location : Strategically located at the crossroads of …
   Geography
Korea is situated on the Korean Peninsula, which spans 1,100 kilometers north to south. The Korean Peninsula lies on the northeastern section of the Asian continent, where Korean waters are joined by the western-most parts of the Pacific. The peninsula shares its northern border with China and Russia. To the east is the East Sea, beyond which neighboring Japan lies. To the west is the Yellow Sea. In addition to the mainland, Korea includes some 3,200 i…
   Climate
Korea has four distinct seasons. Spring and autumn are rather short, summer is hot and humid, and winter is cold and dry with abundant snowfall, especially in the mountainous regions, but not along the southern coast. Temperatures differ widely from region to region within Korea, with the average being between 6°C (43°F) and 16°C (61°F). In early spring, Siberian winds pick up "yellow dust" from thawin…
   Population
As of the end of 2007, South Korea's total population was estimated to be 48,456,369 with a density of 498 people per square kilometer. The population of North Korea was estimated to be 23,200,238. Korea saw its population grow by an annual rate of 3 percent during the 1960s, but growth slowed to 2 percent over the next decade. In 2005, the rate stood at 0.21 percent and is expected to further decline to 0.02 percent by 2020. In the 19…
   Language
All Koreans speak and write the same language, which has been a decisive factor in forging their strong national identity. Korean has several different dialects in addition to the standard variety used in Seoul. Only the dialect of Jeju-do Province, however, is so different that it is difficult for others to understand. Linguistic and ethnological studies have classified the Korean language in the Altaic language family, which includes the T…
   National Symbols
National Flag The Korean flag is called Taegeukgi. Its design symbolizes the principles of the yin and yang in Asian philosophy. The circle in the center of the flag is divided into two equal parts. The upper red section represents the proactive cosmic forces of the yang. Conversely, the lower blue section represents the responsive cosmic forces of the yin. The two forces embody the concepts of continual movement, balance, and harmony that characteriz…
   Constitution

manuscript of the first Constitution of the Republic of Korea On July 17, 1948, the first Constitution of the Republic of Korea was adopted. As the nation underwent political upheavals in pursuit of democratic development, the Korean Constitution has been amended nine times, the last time on October 29, 1987. The current Constitution represents a major advancement in the direction of full democratization. Apart from a legitimate process of revision, a number of substantive changes are notable. They include the curtailment of presidential powers, the strengthening of the power of the legi…

   Executive Branch
The President Cheongwadae (Office of the President) The President of the Republic of Korea, elected by nationwide, equal, direct and secret ballot, stands at the apex of the executive branch. The President serves a single five-year term, with no additional terms being allowed. This single-term provision is a safeguard for preventing any individual from holding the reins of government power for a protracted period of time. In the event of…
   Legislature

The National Assembly Legislative power is vested in the National Assembly, a unicameral legislature. The Assembly is composed of 299 members serving four-year terms. Out of 299 members, 245 are elected by popular vote from local constituencies, while the remaining 54 members obtain their seats through a proportional representation system in which seats are allocated to each political party that has gained 3 percent or more of all valid votes or five or more seats in the local constituency election. The system is aimed at reflecting the voices of people from different walks of life whil…

   Judiciary

The Supreme Court The Judiciary of Korea consists of the Supreme Court, High Courts, District Courts, Patent Court, Family Court, Administrative and Local Courts. The courts exercise jurisdiction over civil, criminal, administrative, electoral, and other judicial matters, while also overseeing affairs related to real estate registrations, family registrations, financial holdings, and court officials. The Supreme Court is the highest judicial tribunal. It hears appeals on cases rendered by lower courts. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is appointed by the President with the consent …

   Independent Organizations
The Constitutional Court The Constitutional Court The Constitutional Court was established in September 1988 as a key part of the constitutional system. The Constitution of the Sixth Republic, based on the Korean people's deep enthusiasm for democracy, adopted a new judicial review system ― the Constitutional Court ― to safeguard the Constitution and to protect the people's basic rights by establishing special procedures for …
   Local Government
Seoul Plaza in front of City Hall The Constitution of the Republic of Korea states in Article 117 that "Local governments deal with matters pertaining to the welfare of local residents, manage properties and may, within the limit of laws, enact provisions relating to local autonomy regulations." Local government heads manage and supervise administrative affairs except as otherwise provided by law. The local…
   Organization Chart
Korean Government Organization Chart
   Presidency

The President is the head of state and represents the state in international affairs. The President is also the head of the executive branch, and the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. In case of the President's death or disability, the Prime Minister will temporarily act as the President according to an order of succession provided by law. The President is elected for a single five-year term by popular vote through universal, equal, direct, secret balloting. The power and duties of the President are defined in the following six areas. First, the President, as head of state…

   Presidents of the ROK
Presidents of the ROK 1st, 2nd and 3rd President (1948 - 1960) 4th President (1960 - 1962) 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th President (1963 - 1979) 10th President (1979 - 1980) Chun Doo-hwan 11th, 12th President (1980 - 1988) Roh Tae-woo 13th President (1988 - 1993) Kim Young-sam 14th Pr…
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