Anchor: Due to the nation’s low birthrate, the number of South Korean elementary school students has dipped below three million for the first time ever. Our Kim Soyon has more.
Report: The Education Ministry said Tuesday that according to a survey by the Korean Educational Development Institute, the number of elementary school students fell by nearly six percent to two-point-nine million students this year.
The more than 180-thousand student drop from last year was recorded in the 2012 Basic Education Stats survey commissioned by the ministry to gather statistics nationwide on schools’ students, teachers and facilities. It was based on data collected as of April first.
South Korea’s elementary school student population fell to the lower four million range in 2000. It grew over the next three years but has since dropped over the past decade, and the current level of students is only half that of 1980.
The total number of elementary, middle and high school students in the country fell three-point-eight percent to six-point-seven million this year.
Students enrolled at all higher learning institutions including universities, two-year colleges and grad schools are also down two tenths of a percent this year at three-point-seven million. This is the first decrease in six years since 2006.
Foreign students studying in Korea have increased yearly, but their numbers also fell for the first time this year by three percent to just below 87-thousand. The number of foreign students taking master’s or doctorate courses rose this year, but that of undergraduates fell nine percent to just over four thousand, bringing down the total figure. The number of foreign students taking language courses in the country also dropped nine-point-seven percent.
Regular staff members at kindergarten, elementary, middle and high schools, meanwhile, fell eight tenths of a percent from last year to over 434-thousand teachers. On the other hand, part-time instructors jumped eight-point-eight percent or by more than three-thousand-300.
Kim Soyon, KBS World Radio News.