Korea Improves on School OCED Rankings

luvsmiling, Sept. 11, 2014, 8:49 a.m.

Public schools in Korea still lag behind those in advanced countries, but the gap has narrowed thanks to more government spending.  According to the latest OECD education survey of 44 member nations, the average class in Korean elementary schools now has 25.2 children and in middles schools 33.4, compared to the OECD averages of 21.3 and 23.5 children. 

The student-teacher ratio is 18.4 in elementary schools, 18.1 in middle schools and 15.4 in high school, inching down toward the OECD average of 15.3, 13.5 and 13.8.  All the figures improved. This year there were 1.1and 0.6 fewer children in elementary and middle school classes. The gap with the OECD average has also narrowed by 1.2 children in elementary schools and 0.9 in middle schools. 

There were also fewer students per teacher this year, down 1.2 in elementary schools, 0.7 in middle schools and 0.4 in high schools.  Compared to 2005, the student-teacher ratio has declined 9.6, 2.7 and 0.6.  The improvements mainly resulted from increased public education spending, which grew to 7.6 percent of GDP. 

That puts Korea third highest after Denmark (7.9 percent) and Iceland (7.7. percent), while the OECD average is 6.1 percent.  The government's share of total spending on public schools rose from 58.9 percent in 2005 to 62.8 percent at present, while the OECD average shrank from 84.3 percent to 83.9 percent. 

But the government's share is still low compared to other OECD countries, so families here pay a substantial fee.  Meanwhile, 98 percent of Koreans completed high school and 66 percent of them went on to university. That is impressive in OECD comparison, where the average is 82 percent and 39 percent, but worries many employers who find graduates ill prepared for actual work.  Korea has ranked first in high school completion since 2001 and university graduations since 2007. 

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