Young South Korean students' spending on private education spiked to a 10-year high in 2019, data from the Ministry of Education and Statistics Korea showed Tuesday, reflecting undiminished parental enthusiasm for their children's academic achievements.
Elementary, middle and high school students spent 20.99 trillion won ($17.6 billion) on private education last year, up 7.8 percent from the previous year's 19.48 trillion won and marking the largest amount since 2009, when 21.6 trillion won was spent, the ministry said.
It noted out-of-school spending by local households has logged steady year-on-year increases since 2016.
Young students' average monthly expenditure on private education surged by 10.4 percent, the biggest growth rate on record, to reach 321,000 won per person last year, the ministry said. The average monthly spending posted a year-on-year rise for the seventh year in a row, and it is the first time that the figure exceeded the 300,000-won mark.
In particular, private education spending by elementary school students increased by 1 trillion won to 9.6 trillion won in 2019, marking a growth rate of 11.8 percent, the largest figure since the government's record-keeping began in 2007.
South Korean parents are famous for their extraordinary craze to have their children excel academically and are reluctant to reduce spending on education, even if they have to tighten their belts in other areas.
Reflecting such fever, the so-called private education consumption tendency index, which indicates the ratio of private education expense in household income, rose from 0.0594 in 2015 to 0.0685 last year, the ministry explained.
According to the government data, 74.8 percent of elementary and secondary school students nationwide received private education last year, up 1.9 percentage points from the previous year.
The private education participation rate for elementary students was 83.5 percent, compared with 71.4 percent for middle school students and 61 percent for high school students.
The ministry said it and Statistics Korea compiled the private education data after polling 80,000 parents and 3,108 teachers at 3,002 schools across the country.
The ministry attributed the surge in elementary students' private education expenses to their increased out-of-school activities in art, music and physical education and a sudden increase in the number of babies born in 2012.
By subject, private education on Korean language, English and math accounted for 15.4 trillion won of the total, with the remaining 5.4 trillion won spent on music, art, sports and other activities.
Private education spending on English jumped 8.2 percent to 6.14 trillion won in 2019.
Notably, expenditures on private education for the study of computer and second foreign languages soared by 34.4 percent last year. (Yonhap)