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Spending on private education drops 5 percent in 2012

Spending on private education dropped for a third straight year here in 2012 due mainly to an increase in elementary students participating in government-run after-school programs, a report showed Wednesday.

According to data compiled by Statistics Korea and obtained by the education ministry, South Korean parents spent 19 trillion won ($17.47 billion) last year on private education for their children, down 5.4 percent from a year earlier.

Private education spending was at its highest in 2009 at 21 trillion won and has since been decreasing, according to the data. The agency started to compile related data in 2007.

Spending on private education per student averaged 236,000 won a month in 2012, down from 242,000 won in 2009 and 240,000 won in 2011, the data showed.

The fall is attributed to the increase of parents placing their elementary school children in government-run after-school programs, which provide additional classes and extracurricular activates, the ministry said.

Spending on private education for elementary school students decreased 14.3 percent last year from a year earlier to 7.8 trillion won, with monthly spending coming to 219,000 won.

“Nearly 60 percent of students are participating in the after-school programs. It has risen steadily since we introduced the program in 2006. Compared to 2008, it is up over 10 percentage points,” said an education ministry official.

The ministry said the decrease is also caused by fewer students applying to special-purpose schools like foreign language high schools following the government’s revision of the entrance exam system. Some 387,000 won per month was spent to prepare for those schools, down by 48,000 won in 2009.

Parents of middle and high school students, however, spent more on private education last year, up 1.9 percent to 6.1 trillion won for middle school students and 1.7 percent to 5.2 trillion won for high school students, the data showed.

English and math were the major subjects parents spent the bulk of their money on, averaging a monthly cost of 80,000 won and 75,000 won, respectively, last year.

Some 69.4 percent of all students received private education last year. Of all ages, 80.9 percent of primary students, 70.6 percent of middle school students, and 50.7 percent of high school students attended private education in 2012, the data showed. (Yonhap News)
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