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Families spending more on education, gov’t says

Mar 15,2017
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Korean families’ expenditure on private educational services including tutoring and after-school classes rose for the first time in seven years last year even though the number of students continues to fall in the country, new data showed Tuesday, suggesting that families, especially wealthy ones, are spending more on their children compared to the past.

Statistics Korea, the national government’s statistics agency, surveyed families with students in elementary, middle and high schools and looked at their spending on services outside of school. In Korea, it is common for students, even those in public schools, to enroll in private after-school cram programs and receive tutoring after their regular school day lets out. Total expenditure on such services last year rose 1.3 percent to 18.1 trillion won ($15.7 billion). The number of students, however, dropped to 5.88 million from 7.73 million in 2007, when the agency began compiling data in its current form.

The rise in spending marks a turnaround from the trend of the past few years. The last time private education spending rose was in 2009, when it went up to 21.6 trillion won from 20.9 trillion won the previous year. Since then, private education expenditure had continually fallen until rebounding last year.

Average spending per student on private educational services recorded an all-time high of 256,000 won per month, up 4.8 percent from the previous year.

“Among those who enrolled in private educational programs, 17.1 percent of them spent more than 500,000 won per month, and another 12.7 percent spent 100,000 won to 200,000 won,” said Yoon Yeon-ok, a director at the statistics agency. “There were more students residing in Seoul and other major cities who spent more than 500,000 won.”

High school expenditure rose the most in 2016. An average 262,000 won was spent on high school students’ private education, up 10.9 percent from a year ago. Over the same period, spending on middle school students fell 0.1 percent to 275,000 won, while those of elementary students rose 4.5 percent to 241,000 won.

The statistics showed that Korean students are spending more on private art, sports and music programs. The average student spent 63,000 won per month on such programs, a 19.5 percent rise from a year earlier.

Meanwhile, average spending on core subjects like Korean, English and math increased just 0.6 percent to 191,000 won per month.

The government data showed that elementary school students spent the most time in private education programs last year. Around 80 percent of all elementary school students were enrolled in these programs and spent on average six hours a week there. That’s higher than the 52.4 percent participation rate of high school students, who spent 4.6 hours a week on average.

Statistics Korea surveyed about 43,000 students from 1,483 schools across the country to gauge spending.


BY KIM YOUNG-NAM [kim.youngnam@joongang.co.kr]