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Education in North Korea: Exploring School Systems

Many facets of life in North Korea are kept secret from the world. The business conducted in the nation is very classified, but what about its school systems? How are the youth of North Korea educated?

Education in North Korea is based on socialistic ideals and an efficiency-oriented school system with emphasis on Korean language, mathematics, literature, and the Kims.

Features of the system include 11 free years of education for children from the age of five through 15, no private schools and tight administrative control over the schools by the state administrative system.

Students are given a political education in the “Juche Doctrine” which outlines the Kim Il-sung ideology and revolutionary strategies, illustrating the importance and necessity of collectivistic activities in their nation. Putting these theories into practice are the basis of the North Korean school system.

Not to mention the leader of the communist nation, Kim Jong-un, forces his people to understand the importance of his family. According to a study by the  Korea Institute for Curriculum Evaluation, students learn more about the Kims and their history than any other subject.

Each North Korean student is required to learn about the lives of Kim, his late father Kim Jong-il, his grandfather Kim Il-sung and grandmother Kim Jong-suk for at least 684 hours during the curriculum. Jong-il and Il-sung lessons are roughly 171 hours each, while Jung-suk lessons are only 34 hours.

Why is the combination of Kim’s history and the three bases used? Simple — to help North Korea maintain its oppressive power.

Students as young as four years old are taught about the greatness of the communist ideology and their leaders, past and present, shaping their minds to believe in the North Korean way. There is an emphasis on math in order to help create future technicians, scientists and workers that the government can rely on to help achieve the nation’s goals.

Children are supposed to learn phrases like “Long live Great Leader Generalissimo Kim Il-sung” before “Hello, how are you.”

Uniformity is the most common characteristic among schools in North Korea, comparable to the government. Rather than living up to needs of the youth, education in North Korea more closely relates to the political system. Diversity and creativity in North Korean schools are rarely nurtured.

Overall, instead of producing creative and unique individuals, education in North Korea is based on producing more followers and worshippers of the North Korean regime.

Mary Waller

Photo: Flickr