Ji Hyun Park
Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation
Overview of Education System
Article 28 of the Government Organization Act stipulates that “the Ministry of Education shall oversee and coordinate human resources development policies, and govern matters related to school education, lifelong education, and other academic affairs.”1 On the basis of this article, the Ministry of Education (MOE) takes charge of establishing a healthy educational environment conducive to accessible, lifelong learning in Korea.
With the enactment of the Local Autonomy Act2 in 1991, new modes of operation facilitated a transition to educational autonomy at the local level. Since then, educational administration systems have become decentralized, and the MOE has ascribed to local authorities much of its budget planning and major decision making processes. Both metropolitan and provincial offices offer sets of operating guidelines to local community authorities and schools within their jurisdiction regarding the organization of school levels and implementation of curriculum. At the same time, the national curriculum and regional guidelines together afford flexibility to individual schools to operate according to their own particular characteristics and objectives.
Korea has a single track 6-3-3-4 system of education: six years of elementary school, three years each of middle school and high school, and four years of college or university. This system is designed to ensure that all students have access to education without discrimination according to their abilities.3 Schooling from Grades 1 to 9 is free and compulsory. During this period, a national curriculum is applied to all students.4
Languages of Instruction
Education is offered in Korean, the official language of the Republic of Korea.