North Korea is promoting a double major system and other reform measures at its universities, a magazine reported Sunday, in what experts here said were efforts to boost students' freedom and emulate schools in capitalist nations.
"In accordance with demands of the new year, projects to innovate the education systems are being pursued," said an article published in the Jokuk monthly magazine obtained by Yonhap News Agency. The magazine, whose name means "My Nation" in Korean, is read by North Korean nationals residing in Japan.
"The second major system is being implemented and other reformative measures are also being taken in order to accomplish our education objective of spreading science and information," said the article titled "How bright North Korean scientists are nurtured."
The magazine also noted that universities are downsizing their curriculum as part of the education reform efforts.
The undergraduate-level diploma courses for liberal arts and social science at the North's leading Kim Il-sung University used to be a five-year program, but they were shortened by six months in 2002. They now will be shortened further to a four-year program.
Experts here said such reform measures reflect influences from capitalist education systems, where the double major system is allowed under a four-year undergraduate diploma curriculum.
"North Korea's push for greater student freedom as reflected in its adoption of the double major system seems to be in line with the development of a market economy in North Korea in which more individual autonomy is allowed," said Lim Eul-chul, a research professor at Kyungnam University.
North Korea expanded its 11-year compulsory education system by one more year in 2013, matching the 12-year basic education plan used in South Korea. (Yonhap News)