Posted December. 07, 2009 08:45,
Elementary schools in Seoul have had an average of 29 students this year, the first time for the number to fall below 30 in the city, the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education said yesterday.
The offices annual educational statistics for this year also said the number of elementary school students in the capital also dropped below 600,000.
The average number of elementary school students in each class dropped to 28.9, down from last years 30.2 after hitting 37.3 a decade ago.
The low birth rate is the most significant factor behind the decline. The number of elementary school students dropped from 633,486 last year to 598,514, the largest fall in recent years apart from that in 2004.
Despite the decline in the number of students, many schools expressed fears over bipolarization. An official at the education office said, There are schools that need consolidation due to the hollowing out of the city, but other schools saw the average number of students climb above 40 per class in new town areas. There are even 100 excessively large schools with more than 40 students per class.
With a student body of 115, Gyodong Elementary School had the lowest average of just 14.4 students per class. In contrast, eight schools had more than 40 students per class on average.
A similar decline was also found in middle schools. The average number of students per class dipped from last years 34.7 to 34.4. Seoul had 355,838 middle school students, the lowest since 1999. The previous low over the past decade was 359,457 in 2003.
The number of students per class at high schools rose 0.4 from last year to 34.8, the first time for high schools to surpass middle schools in the category. The number of high school students increased 6,000 to 368,075 from last year, and has kept rising since hitting 349,154 in 2006.
The number of city schools also went up. Eight elementary schools were added to raise the figure to 586 and five new middle schools raised the number to 374 from last year. This year also saw six more high schools to increase the citys total to 308.
The number of teaching staff reached 29,004 at elementary schools, 19,846 at middle schools, and 22,603 at high schools.