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Development Overview

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Overview of Korea’s development experience

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Development Overview
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Education

Demand-centered education system

Education in Korea since the start of the 21st century has focused on the development of students who can excel in the globalized economy. Given that the quantitative expansion of education has been accomplished, the improvement in educational quality becomes the more important mission, which needs education reform in schools and universities that enables them to better meet the demand of students, parents and companies. Three principles were emphasized for this goal-autonomy, competition and accountability.

The 1).31 Reforms purported to achieve the same goal with their focus on school autonomy, but the decentralization of the school system fell short of expectations. The Lee Myung-bak administration in 2009 sought to revive these efforts with an education liberalization plan, which would give schools more power to choose their own curriculum and teachers. This would result in acompetitive education system populated by a number of diverse and unique schools.

Lifelong education is also receiving renewed interest in the 2000s. The Lifelong Education Act was introduced in 2000 to promote initiatives in this area. The Lifelong Learning Agency was established in 2008. The 2000s also witnessed many other developments. The Basic Human Resources Development Act was enacted in 2002. 5 Tuition-free education up through middle school was started in 2003. Reform measures to improve the quality of higher education were implemented, including the“Brain Korea 21” in 1999, the University Structural Reform Initiative (2004-2009), 2) the introduction of a professional graduate school system (2007), the New University for Regional Innovation Initiative, or NURI (2005-2009), and measures to enhance cooperation between industry and academia. 3) The Lee administration adopted the High School Diversification 300 Project, which would allow middle school graduates to choose among various types of high school according to aptitude and ability. The government is also undertaking a three-stage plan to allow universities more autonomy in their operation such as student selection.

Meanwhile, the use of ICT has been increasing in the education system. The National Education Information System, or NEIS, was introduced in 2003 to keep records on every teacher and student on a Linux-style platform although its implementation nearly touched off a nationwide strike by the Teacher’s Union. As for tertiary education, the University Information Disclosure System was recently implemented for students and parents to have access to selected information on all universities and colleges nationwide via the internet, which would facilitate demand-centered restructuring of higher education.

Source : SaKong, Il and Koh, Youngsun, 2010. The Korean Economy Six Decades of Growth and Development. Seoul: Korea Development Institute.

NOTE


1)Under the act, the government must prepare a human resource development plan every five years. The plan must contain government directives for human resource development, including instructions and guidelines to related administrative bodies, the private sector and central and local government agencies.
2)The higher education reforms included reducing student quotas, promoting the consolidation of financially weak universities, reorganizing the administration of national universities, and encouraging universities to reform their internal structures to improve their competitiveness.
3)Other programs were launched to strengthen the competitiveness of universities, including the Education Information Disclosure System Initiative (2008), the Talent Development for Leading Industries in Regional Economic Zones Initiative (2009) and Strengthening University Education, a program combining the NURI project and college specialization projects.

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