North Korea: Education Revolution In Progress

[imText1]North Korea is pursuing a complete revolution in their education system by getting rid of their former memorization oriented and the cramming education system.

According to Yonhap News on the 9th, North Korea is pursuing the reform of their education system in fourfold. They are implementing to generalize foreign languages and computer skills, to emphasize the creativity over retentive power and the special education for the gifted, and to promote the reeducation of the teachers.

According to the report, North Korea is increasing their interest and investment in the education sector by expanding the 2005 education sponsoring fund and is remodeling the 70 elementary and middle schools in Pyongyang.

The most interesting bit about this reform is that they are putting a heavy emphasis on the transition to education system focusing on creativity, rather than the former memorization method.

Some of the exemplary cases of test problems are arising to prove the case in point. North Korea implemented a similar college admission exam by including the subjective exam questions which tested students’ logical thinking skills, mathematical skills, and cumulative analytical skills. In the past, the college admission exams involved 100% subjective questions to test students’ retentive powers.

In addition, to keep up with the changing IT era, North Korean government emphasized the importance of computer education. They eliminated classes like physics, chemistry and biology, except the major and the Revolutionary History of Kim Il Sung and Kimg Jong Il for the classes of the gifted students in computer.

However, whether North Korea’s education reform will reap any expected benefits remain a mystery. It is especially more so because the two methods of cultivating geniuses and reeducating the teachers have already been tried out.

When Kim Il Sung finished his visit to Eastern Europe in 1984, he stated that, “One genius can support the wellbeing of 10,000 civilians,” and started his Cultivation of Genius program. Next year, there was an establishment of Pyongyang Senior Middle School No.1 which admitted the smartest and the most promising bunch of students. After 2 years, the series of No. 1 high schools were established throughout North Korea, expanding this movement.

North Korean government has enforced professors and teachers to be received their training for a month to three months every 3-5 years. This kind of training is applicable, although they vary in methods and substance, to all governmental workers, physicians, security agents and officers.

However this kind of system was not very successful due to their regressive quality of the education system.

North Korean government will be launching a rigorous education program including the study of foreign languages and computes from April next year. This program will be implemented to elementary school students attending third year. This is 2 years before the initial guideline of teaching the computers and foreign languages to students in Sixth grade.

North Korea’s method in changing the years to younger students can be seen as an indicator of North Korea’s realization that in the era of globalization, without the knowledge of foreign languages and IT sophistication, there can be no economic advancement that was prescribed by the 2002 July 1st Economic Management Reform.

In other words, the education reform implemented by North Korea at the moment can be seen as North Korea’s efforts to save their faltering economy and strive for economic development.

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