Both total expenditures on private education for elementary, middle and high school students and the average monthly private education expenditures per student reached a record high last year since related research began in 2007. It appears students and parents were more driven to private education as students missed more classes due to the pandemic and concerns about missed learning opportunities grew.
The Ministry of Education and Statistics Korea on Friday released the results of a survey on private education expenditures of elementary, middle and high school students in 2021, which surveyed 74,000 students across the country. Total expenditures on private education amounted to 23.4 trillion won last year, up from 19.4 trillion won in 2020, when the pandemic began. It even surpassed the previous high of 21.6 trillion won of 2009.
The average monthly private education expenditures per student last year also reached an all-time high of 367,000 won, up from the previous high of 321,000 won in 2019. The total private education spending grew despite a drop in the number of students. The average monthly private education expenditures per student in general subjects, such as Korean, English, mathematics and social studies/science was 281,000 won last year, up from 235,000 won in 2019.
Some 75.5% of students received private education last year, up 0.7 percentage points from 74.8% in 2019. The number was 67.1% in 2020. The Ministry of Education said more students appear to have received and spent more on private education as COVID-19 vaccination for youth began and face-to-face activities expanded. Kim Kyung-hoe, chair professor at Myongji University, said it appears many parents sent their children to private academies for education and care as schools closed due to the pandemic.
The polarization of private education spending by income was also noticeable. Last year, the average monthly spending on private education per student was 593,000 won for households with a monthly income of 8 million won or more and 116,000 won for households with a monthly income of less than 2 million won, showing a gap of 477,000 won. In 2019, the gap was 435,000 won.