The educational system of North Korea consists of three types of schools. The main track is the general school system, and the other two types are schools for continuing education and schools for special purposes. The school system has maintained its basic structure since the system's major reforms in 1975 following the Party's major policy changes in 1975.
One facet of the formal education system is the general school system. The general school system is the same as school systems in other countries. It is called the general school system to differentiate it from the schools with special purposes and institutes for continuing higher education. The general school system (GSS) has kindergarten through tenth grade (K-10) elementary-secondary schools and higher education. Kindergarten has two levels for two years. The lower class begins at age four and the upper class begins at age five when free compulsory education begins. The elementary school, called people's school, begins at age six and takes four years to complete. The secondary school in North Korea is higher middle school, and it provides six years of schooling. Higher middle school has two levels. The lower-level middle school takes 4 years from age 10 to 13, and the higher-level high school takes 2 years from age 14 to 15.
Higher education has two systems for academic purposes and continuing education. Academic higher education of GSS is composed of universities (four to six years), College of Education for secondary school teachers (four years), Teachers' College for primary school teachers (three years), and junior colleges (three years). After university studies, graduate school for master and doctoral study is continued at post-Doctoral schools.
Another educational system is the continuing education system. The university or continuing higher education is attached tofactories, farms, and fishery cooperatives. The Air and Correspondence University operates a five-year curriculum.
Another type of school system is the special purpose school. This is for talented children and children from the elite class. It consists of the revolutionary school (also called elite school, beginning at age 5 and lasting for 10 years), schools for arts and sports (ages 6 to 18), schools for foreign language (ages 10 to 18), and schools for science (ages 10 to 21).