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‘Desire to learn low among Korean adults’

Korean adults have the least desire to learn new things among all members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, according to a recent report by a state-run research body.

Researchers at the Korean Research Institute for Vocational Education and Training analyzed the “learning strategies” of Korean adults, which include a person’s means to process information, motivation to learn new things and application to real life.

They looked at the answers given by 6,667 people aged 16-65 at the OECD’s Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies last year.

Questions used in the study were: 1) When I encounter new ideas, I picture a situation which it can be applied to. 2) I like learning new things. 3) When I encounter new things, I relate it to other facts that I already know. 4) I like pondering complicated problems to understand them. 5) I like figuring out how different ideas are connected to each other. 6) I seek additional information to better understand complicated matters.

Koreans scored an average of 2.9 out of possible five, which is the lowest of all OECD countries and more than a point lower than Sweden, which scored the highest with 4.0. They scored the lowest on the categories related to studying new issues.

Japan was marginally better with a score of 3.0.

The score peaked in the 25-34 age group and gradually decreased as the age group rose. Researchers said this indicated that older people are less likely to actively try to learn new things.

The study also showed that Korean adults with a higher level of education had better learning strategies.

“The reason Korean and Japanese adults are so passive toward learning is because the working hours are so long and there is a slim possibility that their studying will boost their careers,” said lead researcher Im Eon.

“People’s capacity for integrated thinking and their ability to look at problems from a novel point of view and solve them is essential to enhancing competence of society as a whole. Authorities must make efforts to boost people’s motivation to learn,” she said.

By Yoon Min-sik (