KH: South Korean students fall by 167,000 this year

Back-to-School postponed again! Forums Discussion Forum Korea News KH: South Korean students fall by 167,000 this year

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  • #1233
    • Total Posts: 492
    The story shows the on-going effects of lowered birth rate in Korea on the school population with a 2.5% on-year decline in enrollment.

    For current and potential NSETs this means the continuation of the slow drip-drip of lost public school jobs on the peninsula. After a surge of native English speaking teacher hiring during the Lee Myung-bak administration, several downward pressures slowed the progress, including the global economic recession, the revival of some anti-foreigner social groups, like Anti-English Spectrum, and then the Park Geun-hye administration’s apparent philosophy that “We got ours, good luck getting yours.”

    I came to Korea and SMOE in August 2008, an intake that took two weeks and added something like 800 English speakers to the Seoul teacher rolls. Last August, the intake was around 200. That’s not great, but it’s a long ways from zero. The gloom and doom committee doesn’t need to disband, but they might want to postpone their next meeting.

    While the population numbers aren’t great, and haven’t been for a while, an optimist like me spied a small glimmer in the story:

    However, the number of elementary school students rose 0.1 percent, growing by 1,384 students. The ministry attributed an increase in this year’s first graders to a higher birthrate in 2010.

    What? Population growth? Now, 0.1% might be not something to write home about, or even a post on an on-line forum, but maybe things will turn around. If not, like most other wealthy, educated countries, when indiginous population declines, immigration is waiting in the wings to pick up the slack. And that apparently is true even in the Hermit Kingdom:

    The number of students from multicultural families increased by 10.3 percent to 109,837, surpassing the 100,000 mark for the first time since the government began tracking the number in 2012. That accounted for 1.9 percent of all students here.
    In elementary school alone, the number of multicultural students went up by 11.8 percent to hit 82,733, which the ministry attributed to an increased number of international marriages.

    A further note of optimism, though perhaps following from the downward growth rates, is that the average class size in Korea is closer to OECD averages than ever before. While smaller class size is not a golden chalice, it is a good stand-in for the quality of education that students receive.

    I hope that even NSETs who depend on English jobs can agree this is a move in the right direction.

  • #1235

    • Total Posts: 99

    I also joined SMOE back in 2008, and was placed at a high school that had a beautiful ‘English Only Room’ just built for me. It had 40 chairs at 10 tables, and was laid out in the way they thought the ideal English classroom should look. The whole thing was all very nice, except for the fact that there were 44 students in every class!

    So, before thinking that the sky is falling, we should maybe be happy that class sizes are becoming more manageable. Aside from the fact that teaching a speaking class to 44 people is ridiculous, when 4 students have to sit in chairs at the back of the room and don’t even have tables the environment is pretty crummy.

    I kind of wish they broke the birth/school entrance rate down a little further. I think there is a bit of a reverse migration happening, with lots of people fleeing Seoul once they have kids. I know (living in Songdo), that there are tons of Seoul transplants here that are around my age with young kids. They moved here either solely for the better environment, or just because they couldn’t afford a big enough place to live in the city. I am pretty sure this holds true for a lot of the satellite cities around Seoul, and might extend even further afield. I heard that some top universities prioritize admissions from rural areas, so wouldn’t be surprised to hear if families were relocating to the deep country to focus on university admission.

    • #1275
      • Total Posts: 492

      You know, I think that’s a good point about how the Seoul housing market is freezing out young couples with expanding families. Of course, the pressure has always been the reverse in the past–everyone wants to live in Seoul, and they would settle for close-in Gyeonggi-do as long as it was close to the subway.

      Still, I love Seoul and frankly am not interested in chasing an outside job, even if it’s only as far as Yong-in. There might be an exception but I don’t really see pay going high enough to tempt me.


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