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North Korea Main Page

Education and Literacy in Korea

 


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A young girl in a school in Mangyongdae

Education in North Korea is controlled by the government and is compulsory until the secondary level. Education in North Korea is free. The state also used to provide school uniforms free of charge until the early 1990s. Heuristics is actively applied in order to develop the independence and creativity of students. Compulsory education lasts eleven years, and encompasses one year of preschool, four years of primary education and six years of secondary education. The North Korean school curricula consist of both academic and political subject matter.

Primary schools are known as people's schools and children attend this school from the age of six to nine. They are later enrolled in either a regular secondary school or a special secondary school, depending on their specialties. They enter secondary school at the age of ten and leave when they are sixteen.

Higher education is not compulsory in North Korea. It is composed of two systems: academic higher education and higher education for continuing education. The academic higher education system includes three kinds of institutions: universities, professional schools, and technical schools. Graduate schools for master's and doctoral level studies are attached to universities, and are for students who want to continue their education. Two notable universities in the DPRK are the Kim Il-sung University and Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, both in Pyongyang. The former, founded in October 1946, is an elite institution whose enrollment of 16,000 full- and part-time students in the early 1990s occupies, in the words of one observer, the "pinnacle of the North Korean educational and social system."

North Korea is one of the most literate countries in the world, with an average literacy rate of 99%.

According to ancient history texts, formal education began during the Three Kingdoms period (57 BC-AD 668) under the influence of the Chinese educational system.  Higher education in all these kingdoms tended to be focused on the study of Chinese classics of Confucian orientation.  The institutionalization of the civil service examination in the mid-10th century set the pattern for educational reform, by directing the role of education toward preparing young men for public service.

By the late 14th century, Buddhism gradually declined and so did the central government.  The founders of the Choson Dynasty (1392-1910) turned to Confucianism as the source of basic principles for national politics, ethics and social institutions.  Education during the Choson Dynasty was mainly viewed as a means to prepare young aristocratic men for future public service.

The waves of Western culture and modernization that reached the coast of the "Hermit Kingdom," as Korea was known to the West, were powerful enough to move King Kojong to issue an edict in 1882 upholding education as one of the "pillars" of the nation and opening the doors of state-operated schools to citizens of all classes.  Yugyong kong-won, Korea's first school in  a modern sense, was established in 1886.  It employed American missionary teachers who taught English with the aid of interpreters.

 

Religions:
traditionally Buddhist and Confucianist, some Christian and syncretic Chondogyo (Religion of the Heavenly Way)
note: autonomous religious activities now almost nonexistent; government-sponsored religious groups exist to provide illusion of religious freedom
Languages:
Korean
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99%
Education expenditures:
NA

Grand People's Study House 

Pyongyang  School Children's Palace

Pyongyang  School Children's Palace

 
 
 
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