Korean Education, Middle and High Schools - 86
Education is a subject that will arouse the interest of many Koreans, with education a major influence on today’s modern culture. Education dominates the lifestyle of the young in Korea, with students throughout middle school and high school, having to study for up to twelve hours a day. This all leads up to the highly competitive and dreaded university entrance exam. The university entrance is a torrid affair for teenagers, with the teenagers under intense pressure, in a society where getting into one of the best universities is an absolute priority.
With teenagers all over Korea studying as hard as the other, the competition just keeps increasing to the point now where every teenager is under incredible pressure. Koreans in fact, spent more money on education that any other nation (per capita) in the world in 2003, according to the OECD. In a country where there are the big three companies (Samsung, L.G. and Hyundai) and thousands upon thousands of graduates hoping to get a job with one of these big three, it is easy to understand the reason why Koreans are under so much pressure.
The state of education in Korea is continually criticised by the people of Korea, with there considered many underlying problems throughout the system. Oversized classes, poorly trained teachers and a system based only on memorisation, are a few of the problems that I have heard mentioned time and time again. In order to overcome the problem with state education, parents spend an incredibly high amount of their income on private schooling in Hogwans and it is common for children go to two or three Hogwans in one day, some children finishing schooling late into the evening.
This is in stark contrast to in England, where the children are more likely to be hanging on a street corner causing trouble, sat at home watching TV or outside playing football in the early evening. The problem though, is perhaps a vicious circle in Korea, whereby even with a very good state education system, students would still be under the same pressure to be the best academically and Korean students would push and be pushed just as hard. This work ethic and competitiveness, even though perhaps negative in the way it puts so much stress onto the youngsters, does perhaps also help to explain how Korea has risen so far economically in such a short time, to become one of the top three Asian economies. The elderly in Korea might also point to the opportunities that the youngsters now have, compared to the poverty and hardships that they had during their own youth.