South Korea’s monthly spending on private education per child hit a record high in 2015, with seven out of 10 students taking private lessons, government data showed Friday.
According to the survey by Statistics Korea and the Ministry of Education, 68.8 percent of students across the nation received private tutoring last year, up 0.2 percent from a year earlier.
The average amount spent was 244,000 won ($197), up 1 percent from the previous year. However excluding those not receiving private lessons, the actual amount spent per student rose to 355,000 won.
The survey was based on interviews with 43,000 parents of elementary, middle and high school students enrolled across 1,244 schools nationwide.
The budget for private education was mostly proportional to the age of the students, the data showed. The average for elementary school students inched up 0.1 percent on-year to 286,000 won, while that for middle and high school students rose 1.6 percent and 1.4 percent, to 397,000 won and 471,000 won respectively.
Elementary school students were the most reliant on private education, with nearly 81 percent taking extracurricular lessons, followed by middle school students at 69.4 percent and high school students at 50.2 percent.
Elementary and middle school students spent the most time on private tutoring. They spent 6.4 hours per week, while high school students spent 4.1 hours.
Meanwhile, the nation’s total amount of spending on private education saw a 2.2 percent decrease from the previous year at 17.8 billion won, on the back of a drop in the number of students. The number of students dwindled from 7.23 million to 6.08 million over the period 2010 to 2015.
The data also showed a widening gap in spending on private education between high-income and low-income families. Households that earn less than 1 million won only invested 66,000 won in private education. In contrast, families that earn more than 7 million won a month spent 420,000 won on their children’s private lessons.
By subject, monthly spending on major subjects like Korean, English and mathematics saw a 0.3 percent decrease, or 1,000 won, to 190,000 won, compared to a year earlier. Spending on sports, arts and music in the private sector increased by 5.4 percent to 53,000 won.
By region, Seoul spent the most (338,000 won), followed by Gyeonggi Province (265,000 won) and Daejeon (254,000 won). South Jeolla Province invested the least in private education per person (165,000 won) for the second consecutive year.
By Ock Hyun-ju (email@example.com