Administration, Finance, & Educational Research
Education ranks first in the government budget and draws substantial nongovernmental funds. Education in Korea is funded largely by the central government from tax revenues, but also by local government and private or school foundations. A supplemental education tax instituted in 1982 and made permanent in 1991 became an important financial resource for the central government budget, as it represented 26.2 percent of MOE budget in 1999. From 1996 to 1998, educational policy secured an allotment of 5 percent of the GNP for education; in 1999 it measured 4.3 percent.
The central government budget funds offices of elementary and secondary school education, operating funds for the national universities, some support for private universities, and money for education-related administrative and research organizations. Elementary and middle school education is compulsory. Elementary school is free, but as of 2001, only 19.5 percent of middle school students—those in farming and fishing areas—received their education gratis. Middle schools in urban areas, high schools, and higher educational institutions charge tuition to supplement government funding. Funds also come from private sources, mostly from parents but also from private organizations. By 2004 compulsory education will become completely free (MOE).
Of elementary and secondary school education, 85 percent is funded by the central government; 15 percent by parents and local government. About 80 percent of junior colleges and universities are private. Private school financing heavily depends on tuition from parents and other organizations, both private and public.
As of 1994, private education expenses amounted to 464 billion or 5.75 percent of GNP. If costs for kwa-oe (literally, "extracurricular")—private tutoring and other out of school supplementary education—are added, an additional 2.7 percent of GNP is spent by families with primary and secondary school students (KEDI 1996, 13). As of 2000, more than half (55 percent) the total households said that the kwa-oe was burdensome for their family budgets. The education reform of 1999 was perceived as encouraging even more private lessons.
Expenses for out of school education are the highest at elementary ages (OECD 43). Preschool and postsecondary education is entirely covered by individuals. In 1994, private kindergartens made up 77.8 percent of preschools. The share of private colleges and universities amounted to 81.9 percent in 1995 (OECD 28).
Hardly any secondary school student has a paying job and regular college students rarely do. When they do work, it is usually privately at such jobs as tutoring or as office assistants. All precollege costs and also many higher education costs are borne by students' parents or guardians.
The Korean Educational Development Institute (KEDI), a quasi-governmental think tank established in 1972, has played a principal role in Korea's emergence as an educationally advanced nation. The Korea Institute of Curriculum & Evaluation (KICE), a governmentfunded educational research center established in 1998, strives to improve school education through research and development for school curriculum, textbooks, instructional materials, and educational evaluations. KICE develops tests (administered by the Metropolitan/Provincial Educational Authorities) and analyzes and reports results.
The Korea Research Institute for Vocational Education and Training (KRIVET), established in 1997, carries out policy-oriented research in vocational education and training and helps people prepare for lifelong learning and gain employment in industry.
The Korea Research Foundation, Korea's foremost funding agency for basic research, was established in 1981 in accordance with the Korean Scholarship Promotion Act. It incorporated the Korea Institute for Educational Exchange in 1984 and the Korea Scholarship Foundation in 1999. KRF has expanded its mission beyond supporting basic research to offering scholarships and conducting its own research to act as a clearing house on research and activities for the entire academic world (KRF).
The Korea Foundation (KF), established by the Korea Foundation Act in 1991, endeavors to contribute to a better understanding of Korea in the international community and to promote international goodwill between Korea and foreign countries. Unlike the Korea Research Foundation, which belongs to MOE, KF is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Between 1992 and 2000, KF helped create Korean studies professorships at 37 universities worldwide: 27 in North America, 4 in Europe, 5 in Australia and New Zealand, and 1 in Asia. In addition, KF granted support for establishing Korean studies courses at 60 universities in North America, Latin America, Europe, Oceania, Asia, and the Middle East. KF has also funded both basic and applied research, textbook projects, exhibitions, performances, and numerous international academic conferences and supported visiting scholars and students who come to do research or study in Korea. It also publishes journals on Korean studies.
In 1997, in accordance with the national slogan of segyehwa ("globalization") of Koreans and Korean life, the government provided special funds to nine graduate schools of international studies (GSIS) to promote research and specialized training necessary for international trade and relations, which require the students to deal with a wide variety of world affairs and people from different cultures with different strategies. All subjects are taught in English by outstanding specialists in particular fields. There are more than 200 international students in these schools.
Area studies, encompassing Asia, the Middle East, Europe, North America, Central and South America, and Africa are gaining momentum at institutes of higher learning. Foreign languages have become an integral part of international studies. A whole range of foreign languages are taught in Korean universities: African languages, Arabic, Czech, Chinese, Dutch, English, German, French, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Malay, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Rumanian, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, and Vietnamese.
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