Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae (Yonhap)
South Korea saw five new special schools open in the year ending March 31, the largest yearly increase in seven years, with new additions in Seoul, Incheon, Gangwon Province and South Chungcheong Province. Special schools are tailored to the needs of students with physical, intellectual and emotional disabilities.
According to the Ministry of Education on Sunday, the number of special schools in Korea marked 182 as of April 1. The increase is the largest since 2013, when seven new special schools opened their doors. On average, Korea added 2.5 new special schools every year from 2015 to 2019.
The country is expanding educational opportunities for students with special needs, with a target of 196 special schools and 11,565 classrooms by 2022. The number of classrooms already exceeds the goal, standing at 11,661.
Opening a new special school often faces strong resistance from local residents.
One of the five special schools set up last year, the Seoul Seojin School, opened its doors far later than scheduled for that reason, although initial plans were announced in November 2013.
As of April 1, 95,420 students required special education, up 2.6 percent from a year earlier. Around 55.3 percent, or 52,744 students, attend special classes at regular schools, and 27.6 percent attend special schools.
Some 16,000 students attend regular classes at regular schools, and 316 attend specialized educational support centers.
By Ko Jun-tae (firstname.lastname@example.org