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South Korea

South Korea Curriculum

South Korea, constituting the southern part of the Korean peninsula in East Asia, is a nation with rich culture and history. South Korea is a monolingual society, where Korean is the native language and the Korean alphabet, Hangeul, is used for the writing system. Culturally, Koreans highly value education and perceive it as the means to climb up the socio-economic ladder. Hence, both the government and many families invest in their child’s education, and consequently, Korea has an extremely high literacy rate and high school graduation rate. The Korean educational system is divided into 4 parts: Kindergarten (age 3 – 5; optional), elementary School (6 years), Middle School (3 years), High School (3 years). Unlike Canada, the school year in Korea starts in March and ends in early January of the following year with 2 semesters. Korean is the language of instruction including most of the mathematical and scientific terms. The Ministry of Education develops and monitors the national curricula, and they are revised every 5 to 10 years. Each subject curriculum consists of characters, objectives, contents (structure and expectations), teaching and learning methods, and evaluation in details. The curricula guide educators to relate learning contents to real life, as well as to provoke higher order thinking skills. Links: Ministry of Education (KORENG); Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation (KORENG); National Curriculum Information Centre (KORENG), The Korea Authorized & Approved Textbook Association (KOR), Korean textbooks – online shopping (KOR).

There are 3 types of textbooks: 1) Published by the Ministry of Education; 2) Developed by private publishers based on the national curriculum; these textbooks can only be published once approved by the Ministry of Education; 3) Supplementary resources and textbooks that are not published by the MOE and/or publishers; these are approved by the Ministry of Education. The textbooks are used throughout schooling. They are well organized by units and with clearly stated objectives and learning concepts. Also, colourful pictures, examples, and storylines/scenarios are incorporated in order to promote student engagement. As well, all three types of the textbooks are affordable and can be easily purchased online and/or at bookstores depends on the type of the textbook. Assessment in the Korean education system consist of various forms: reports, presentations, projects, performances, written tests and quizzes, etc. In addition, mid-term and final exams are carried out in each semester for middle school (except Gr. 7) and high school students. Furthermore, Grade 12 students write a national exam called Suneung – the College Scholastic Ability Test – in November, where its result, along with their school grades, determine the university a student can enter.