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Perfect Attendance but Dozing Off in Class

Posted September. 14, 2004 22:08,   


According to the “2004 OECD Education Index,” which was released after analyzing the educational conditions (year 2001-2003) of 49 countries including OECD member nations, the civil (meaning private institutions and parents) allotment rate for education is 41 percent based on the standards of 2001, which is approximately 3.4 times the OECD average(12%).

Education costs refer to money being invested into school education, and the civil allotment rate is the amount of money, separately calculated, that private institutions or parents pay for student tuitions and the capitalization costs of private school foundations.

From the government and the people, the total expenditure for schooling per person was $3,714 for elementary school, $5,159 for middle and high school, and $6,618 for university based on the purchasing power parity (PPP) in 2001. The figures were 65 to 79 percent of the OECD average ($4,850, $6,510, and $10,052 respectively).

Compared to these large costs in schooling expenditures, the reliability of school education has turned out to be relatively low.

The sense of belonging to school for 15-year-old students scored 461 points in Korea, the lowest among the OECD nations along with Poland. On the other hand, Korean student attendance scored 546 points, the second highest score in that category, followed by Japan (555 points).

This can be interpreted that Korean students attend school under an obligation to do so, but do not feel interest in going to school.

The number of students per teacher in Korea is 31.4 for elementary school, 20.7 for middle school, and 16.5 for high school, each being higher than the OECD average (16.6, 14.4, and 13.1 respectively).

The starting salary based on PPP for teachers in Korea was $20,698 for elementary school, and $20,685 for middle and high school, which was slightly higher than the OECD average ($20,291 for elementary school, $20,423 for middle school, and $20,529 for high school, respectively).

The number of yearly school hours worked by elementary schoolteachers in Korea was 811 hours, somewhat more than the OECD average of 803 hours. But the yearly school hours were 554 hours for middle school, and 531 hours for high school, less than the OECD average (717 hours and 674 hours).

Accordingly, Han Jae-kap, spokesman for the Korea Federation of Teacher’s Associations insisted, “In the cases of advanced countries, teachers concentrate on teaching, but since Korean teachers are burdened with supplementary lessons and administrative work, it is not fair to simply compare their salary and school hours with those of the teachers in other countries.”

PPP means converting a dollar’s worth of goods that you can buy in the U.S. to the amount of money you need in order to buy the same bundle of goods in the appropriate countries.

For example, if a McDonald’s hamburger is $3 in the U.S, and 2,500 won in Korea, then the purchasing power parity (PPP) of Korea would be 833 won, which is 2,500 won divided by $3. The PPP for $1 for Korea in 2002 was 733.84 won.

Seong-Chul Hong sungchul@donga.com