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Korea’s High Student-Teacher Ratio

Posted March. 01, 2006 05:45,   


The average number of students per teacher in Korea is 30, the highest in the world except for a few African and Asian countries, according to government and U.N. reports.

According to data from the National Statistical Office and UNESCO, a Korean elementary school teacher taught 30 students on average in 2003, down from 32 in 2001 and 31 in 2002.

Only five other countries in Asia had higher ratios: Bangladesh (56), India (41), Nepal (36), the Philippines (35), and Myanmar (33). Laos and Mongolia had similar ratios (31) in 2002.

The number of students per elementary school teacher was 18 in Taiwan as of 2003, 20 in Japan and Hong Kong, and 21 in China as of 2002.

No European country had a higher figure than Korea, with France and Ireland having 19 students per teacher as the highest on the continent.

Hungary had the smallest number of students per teacher (10), 14 in Germany, 17 in Britain, and 13 in Austria.

In the meantime, though the ratio of female teachers in elementary schools increased from 72 percent in 2002 to 73 percent in 2003, it was not that high compared to other countries.

Among Asian nations, the ratio was highest in Mongolia at 93 percent followed by the Philippines at 89 percent and Israel at 87 percent.

Kim Jung Myung-Shin, co-chairman of a civil education community, said, “The government should not sit on its hands and depend on the ever-decreasing birth rates to cope with the high student-teacher ratio.”

Sun-Woo Kim sublime@donga.com