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Main Address: Education, the Driving Force for the Development of Korea

09 February 2015


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Education is the driving force of a nation’s development, says Korean Deputy PM Hwang

“In 1948, we were one of the poorest countries in the world. And in the 67 years since the end of the [second world] war, Korea has successfully transformed from being dependent on international aid into a donor country,” said HE Hwang Woo-yea, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Republic of Korea.

Speaking at a Government Summit 2015 session titled ‘Education, the Driving Force for the Development of Korea’, Hwang spoke about the current status of education, and the challenges faced while establishing an educational plan of action for the country. 

“We have come a very long way since the end of the war. I believe that Korea has adhered remarkably. We can now confidently say that we are the 7th largest nation for trade in the world,” he said. 

He attributed Korea’s success to investment in the field of innovative education and the confident human resource force that the country has built over the years.

Hwang said the concept of life-long learning is deeply rooted in Korean tradition and culture. Korea has invested heavily in the development of high-school and higher education curricula and infrastructure. 

“On an individual level, Koreans believe in learning through self-discipline, which indirectly contributes to educational development and prosperity,” Hwang said.

Korea provides free and compulsory education to its children until high school and the government is continuously investing in middle-school and higher education, according to the Deputy Prime Minister. 

“Education reforms have always been an important part of our developmental plans. These plans are custom-made to meet the demands of rapid economic development,” he said.

Higher education has expanded rapidly since the 1980s and the country is now focusing on cultivating creative talent by improving the quality of higher education. 

“We have developed a highly efficient approach to cater for the needs of children attending high school,” he said. The Deputy Prime Minister said that the main reason for Korea’s success in the field of education is the parental approach to education and the people’s deep-rooted respect towards teachers. 

“We emphasize on integrating traditional values with modern education. Koreans are not hesitant to choose teaching as a career option because it is considered a very noble profession in Korea,” he said. 

“The Korean people strongly support character education and we constantly encourage teachers to converge traditional and modern educational values.” 

In recent years, Korea has also invested 2 billion won into entrepreneurship programs for college graduates. “We are encouraging college graduates to start businesses and encouraging students to enhance their aims and opportunities,” Hwang said. Students in high school are also encouraged to take semester breaks, to help them figure which direction they’d like to take their careers. 

“We are giving students the freedom to choose the direction that they’d like to take their future,” he said.

High-speed Internet access in classrooms increases in the prevalence of online education by introducing massive open online courses, and convergence of the study of science and the study of arts are markers of how far the Korean educational system has come.

The Deputy Prime Minister invited stakeholders in the educational field to attend the Incheon World Education Forum 2015, which according to Woo-yea is like the ‘Olympics of Education’.