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Overview of Korea’s development experience

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Development Overview
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Social Infrastructure

Investments in education

Investments in Education
 
With considerable US financial and technical assistance, Korean education system underwent significant transformation in form and substance.23 An estimated US $100 million alone went into education and training during post-Korean War reconstruction period. The foreign assistance in education was administered by the Armed Forces Aid to Korea (AFAK) and UNKRA during the early years of post-war reconstruction. It was then transferred to the ICA.24 The goals of the assistance efforts in Korean education after 1953 centered on: classroom construction, secondary and vocational education, teacher training, and higher education. There was also a good deal of technical assistance carried in the military.

[Table 1-1] ICA Aid By Commodity: 1955-59

(Unit: US $ 1,000)

  
 

  1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 Total
2) Non-project Assistance            
Agricultural products 28,443 37,740 73,758 41,736 32,426 214,110
Wheat (raw) 22,039 16,396 26,425 3,0815 23,369 119,044
Wheat flour 3,982 9,012 22,809 3,945 7,205 46,953
Energies 10,471 23,473 24,000 35,395 20,625 113,964
Petroleum, gasoline 7,215 20,162 20,357 24,667 19,379 91,780
Bituminous coal 3,211 3,025 2,900 10,569 1,070 20,775
Raw material/semi-
finished
54,937 107,171 105,638 97,960 88,895 485,119
Fertilizer 40,792 55,686 56,556 47,652 45,617 246,303
Rubber 1,000 5,884 3,658 3,774 5,509 19,825
Rayon yarn 1,449 14,228 12,715 10,144 9,723 48,259
Medical supplies 1,185 4,019 4,541 3,761 3,503 17,009
Paper 329 6,836 5,012 7,096 1,553 20,826
Raw material for sales 14,504 17,208 27,142 26,648 22,740 108,302
Wood/timber 3,208 2,505 4,359 4,044 5,093 19,209
Cement 1,755 2,112 2,396 1,039 - 7,302
Sub-total 108,355 (53%) 185,659 (65%) 230,538 (71%) 201,739 (76%) 164,686 (79%) 890,977 (70%)
Total 205,815 (100%) 271,049 (100%) 323,267 (100%) 265,629 (100%) 208,297 (100%) 1,274,057 (100%)

Source: Lee (2002)
 
The physical presence of the US and its geopolitical motives in the region had a unique and profound impact on Korean education. As Mason et al. (1980) write: “Schools under the US Military Government (1945-48) also had clearly defined political and economic purposes: to convert Korean youth and adults to the American conception of democracy and to provide basic skill training.” To spread American ideals and values, US assistance in cooperation and support of Korean educators sought to significantly increase access to education to all Koreans. Korea would eventually achieve universal primary education in late 1950s while making all primary schools coeducational. By 1948, 15 million textbooks were printed and distributed. The Korean language of Hangeul was formally reintroduced in the curriculum, and any elements of Japanese tradition in education were discarded. The Korean curriculum underwent significant change with the incorporation of scientific methods in education that put emphasis on “problem solving” and “learning-by-doing” (Mason et al. 1980, p344).
 
[Table 1-2] Number of Classrooms and School Age Population in 1950
 
 

Province Classroom Eligible Population
Primary Secondary Total Primary Secondary Total
Seoul 1,911 1,515 3,426 95,030 88,164 183,194
Kyonggi 4,549 478 5,027 467,097 392,783 859,880
Chungchong Puk Do 2,322 433 2,755 188,577 161,561 350,138
Chungchong Nam Do 3,493 221 3,714 368,046 274,990 643,036
Cholla Puk Do 3,438 399 3,937 625,711 436,373 1,062,084
Cholla Nam Do 5,182 191 5,373 548,938 474,597 1,023,535
Kyongsang Puk Do 5,228 787 6,015 354,634 290,309 644,943
Kyong Sang Nam Do 5,477 807 63,384 488,959 358,098 847,057
Kangwon Do 2,249 371 2,520 156,505 122,530 279,035
Jeju Do 445 39 484 43,518 45,672 89,190
Universities & Colleges NA NA 2,943 NA NA 24,921
Total 34,294 5,241 42,478 3,337,015 2,645,077 6,007,013

Source: UNESCO in Dodge (1971) “US Assistance to Korean Education, a History of a Decade of US Foreign Aid.”

 


23 UNKRA also provided aid in education totaling nearly US$ 11 million, most of which was used to repair schools destroyed during the Korean War.
 
24  The Agency for International Development became the US aid administrator after the Foreign Assistance Act was passed in 1961.

Source: Kim, Jun-Kyung and Kim, KS. 2012. Impact of foreign aid on Korea's development. Seoul: KDI School of Public Policy and Management.