Go to contents

Scarcity of Students Puts High Schools in Provinces at Risk

Scarcity of Students Puts High Schools in Provinces at Risk

Posted February. 23, 2005 23:17,   


Teachers of Macha High School in Buk-myun, Yeongwol-gun, Gangwon have been very disturbed recently and have heavy hearts when they head to school. The school celebrates the 47th anniversary of its foundation this year, but its operation is at risk as the number of students has decreased year by year.

Teachers and residents expressed their concerns, “The school may have to close if this phenomenon continues,” because the number of students is merely 24, excluding the seniors who are to graduate this year, and the number of freshmen in 2005 will be only 12.

A teacher said, “In the past, a classroom was usually crowded with more than 50 students, but now, the number of students in the same grade is slightly more than 10,” and added, “The situation somehow resulted from a decrease in the population of this area, but also is exacerbated as most parents do not want their children to study at schools in the rural area.”

The cornerstone of the education in provinces is shaken as the number of applicants for high schools has fallen in those areas.

So-called “top-notch” high schools in provinces, in which students can choose their desired school and attend it if they pass a test, contrast schools in which the purpose of the lottery is to allow an equal chance for all applicants to be accepted into their desired school.

The worst cases are in Gangwon province. According to the Gangwon-do Office of Education, Gapcheon high school in Hoengseong and Cheolam High School in Taebaek enrolled only five new students out of an expected 30 registered and seven out of 35, respectively. Fifteen high schools in Gangwon Province alone failed to reach 50 percent of their full capacity.

So are provincial privileged high schools. Wonju Girl’s High School, Wonju High School, Chunchon and Gangneung Girls’ High Schools have still 13, seven, five, and four openings, respectively.

Other provinces have similar problems.

Chungju Girls’ High School, one of the exemplary privileged high schools in Chungju, saw fewer new students for the first time since opening in 1942 as it enrolled 38 students less than its full capacity of 350. Chungju High School narrowly succeeded in filling its full capacity of 350. For Chungbuk province as a whole, the 18 ordinary and vocational high schools are short by 405 students.

In Gyeonggi province, 323 empty spaces exist in the school district of Suwon, Anyang, Bucheon, and Goyang. In Suji High School in Yongin, 505 new students out of a capacity 540 applied this year, in contrast to last year when an excess of 30 students sought to attend the school.

In addition, many schools have barely filled its capacity or are lacking new students. For example, Andong Girls’ High School in Gyeongbuk province, Jeonnam Foreign Language High School, both Daekyoung High School and Daekyoung Girls’ High School in Jeju Province have 11, four, 18, and six spaces available.

An official from Gangwon-do Office of Education explained the situation, “More parents want to send their children to schools in Seoul or big cities as the ratio of successful applicants for privileged universities has dropped in the provincial high schools.”

Moreover, famous high schools have lost their competitiveness as universities have increased the ratio of academic records from high school in students’ assessment. In effect, there are some extraordinary cases in some provinces that privileged schools see the drop in the number of its applicants while ordinary high schools nearby experience an increase of new students.

Shin Pan-gi, a school commissioner of the Gyeongsangnam-do Office of Education, diagnosed the symptom, “Students with good academic records, who favored privileged schools in the past, tend to disperse to nearby schools but a decrease in new students is actually serious”, and added, “The population decrease is inevitable but efforts at the local level to boost provincial education are necessary as some provincial schools have made efforts to attract excellent students by expanding the benefits of scholarships.”