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South Korea Education System Overview

Education in South Korea is mainly funded by the state, and is mandatory for children aged 6-15 years old. 

Pre-Primary Education

The pre-primary education is not compulsory and comprises of the Kindergarten and nursery schools. Children between the ages 3-6 years attend the pre-primary education. Education focuses on learning through play and other pleasurable activities. Pre-primary education focuses on providing an appropriate environment and services for fostering kids.

Primary Education

The primary education in South Korea lasts for 6 years and is mandatory to attend. Students at the age of 6 enter the elementary/primary schools or Chodeung-hakgyo. The syllabus for the elementary schools in South Korea is nationally standardised and mainly focuses on study of the Korean language, Mathematics, Science, arts and music. At grade 3, English is also taught in the schools. 

Secondary Education

The secondary education in South Korea encompasses Middle school and High Schools

Middle School

The middle schools are the part of the lower secondary education. After the completion of the elementary/primary schools, students have to attend Middle School. It is compulsory to attend Middle School or jung-hakgyo in South Korea. Middle Schools lasts for 3 years and children at the age of 12 years begin middle school education. The middle schools focus on following subjects- Korean language, Mathematics, English, Science and Social Science. Optional Subjects are-Arts and Music, physical education, history, ethics, technology, home economics, and Hanja Chinese Characters.

High School

High Schools are referred to as the Upper Secondary education. The high school or  godeung-hakgyo in South Korea lasts for 3 years and at the age of 15 years (Grade 10). The nature of high school education varies broadly between institutions in South Korea. There are general/academic, vocational and special purpose or specialised high schools in South Korea. 

Specialised or Special Purpose High Schools: The special purpose or specialised high schools emphasize on a particular subject area, such as foreign language, science or arts. 

Vocational High School: Most of the middle school graduates go for vocational high school. The vocation high school focuses majorly on 5 disciplines- Commerce, Agriculture, Technology, Fishery ad Home Economics. The first of three grades follow a common curriculum and then students opt for their specialization course.

General/Academic High School: The academic high schools in South Korea focuses on basic education and preparing students for higher studies and University entrance examinations.  

Higher Education

One the student graduate from high school, he/she can opt for higher education. To gain admittance to higher education institutions in South Korea, students have to sit for an entrance examination- College Scholastic Ability Tests. Most of the students go for a 4-year Undergraduate course in South Korea.  Also, Master’s and doctorate degree courses are available. South Korea possesses public as well as private higher education institutions. 

The Ministry of Education-Republic of Korea recognizes 7 different types of institution at the higher education level:
  1. Colleges and universities
  2. Industrial universities
  3. Universities of education
  4. Junior colleges
  5. Broadcast and correspondence universities
  6. Technical colleges
  7. Other miscellaneous institutions

Special Education

Special education schools are state-funded. Special education is offered to disabled pupils at the nursery schools, elementary schools, middle and high school levels. Special education is based on the Act on Primary and Secondary School Education and the Special Education Promotion Act. 
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