North Korean authorities recently directed education departments throughout the country to start the school year on Oct. 15, Daily NK has learned.

According to a Daily NK source in the country yesterday, the order was handed down during the morning of Sept. 29. The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Daily NK that the directive to start school on Oct. 15 was made in consideration of events planned on and around Party Foundation Day on Oct. 10.

For example, the authorities plan to invite “model educators” from around the country who have made achievements in the country’s educational and academic sectors to Pyongyang for Party Foundation Day so they can be honored as “contributors” to “socialism” and “the nation.” According to the source, the authorities plan to have the educators stay in Pyongyang for two days to tour the city until returning home.

The regime also plans to mobilize university students from both Pyongyang and other areas of the country to take part in celebratory events in Pyongyang and the seats of provincial governments. After these events, the students will take part in criticism sessions held at their schools. This, the source said, is another reason why the authorities have chosen Oct. 15 for the start of the school year.

“Students from universities in Pyongyang and the provinces will take part in the Oct. 10 events and then, on Oct. 11, they will participate in criticism sessions at their universities and organizations conducted by the Workers’ Party and Youth League [Kimilsungist-Kimjongilist Youth League] before taking a two-day break on Oct. 12 and Oct. 13,” the source said.

“Students at universities in Pyongyang who have already started the school year will prepare for the restart of their studies on Oct. 14, while students at universities in the provinces will have a preliminary school day [on Oct. 14] and start classes from Oct. 15,” he added.

Students at the Mangyongdae Revolutionary School in Pyongyang. / Image: KCNA

The source explained that, originally, the authorities had ordered students to rest on Oct. 10 and Oct. 11. They reportedly changed this “rest period” to Oct. 12 and Oct. 13 because university students will have to take part in events and criticism sessions on Oct. 10 and Oct. 11.

While there is little chance the authorities will delay the start of the school year again, the source said that people are wondering whether school will really start on Oct. 15 because the regime has delayed the opening of schools multiple times in the past.

In fact, North Korea ordered the school year to start on Sept. 1 only to announce a delay of around 10 days because of concerns over the spread of COVID-19. Later, the country’s education authorities delayed the start of school again because of damage to school buildings by recent floods and typhoons.

The regime has reportedly placed a priority on repairing schools damaged by the typhoons before Party Foundation Day, which makes it likely that students will be able to return to their classrooms by Oct. 15.

The country’s education ministry has directed schools to fill the morning and afternoons with classes to make up for the lost time once the school year begins. Students and their parents, however, are reportedly worried that so much class time has been lost that they will find it difficult to catch up or digest what is being taught.

“Wealthy families are hiring private tutors to get their kids up to speed,” the source said, adding, “Poorer families are worried that their kids will fall behind but are consoling themselves with the thought that it’s fortunate the school year has been delayed so long that [their kids] are able to help out with the autumn harvest.”

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Ha Yoon Ah is Daily NK's editor-in-chief. Please direct any questions about her articles to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.