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Korea
Overview of the education system (EAG 2013)
  • Korea's unemployment rate has increased but at a slower rate than in other OECD countries. Unemployment rates among those without an upper secondary education only increased by 0.2 percentage points between 2008 and 2011, compared with an OECD-wide increase of 3.8 percentage points. For tertiary-educated adults, unemployment rates increased as well, but only by 0.3 percentage points during the same period, in comparison with an OECD average increase of 1.5 percentage points.
  • The share of public sources for early childhood education increased from 43% in 2009 to 53% in 2010. However, the share of private sources for this level of education is still much higher than elsewhere (48% in 2010). On average, across OECD countries, 82% of the total expenditure on early childhood education came from public sources and 18% came from private sources in 2010. The introduction of a financial support programme that provides tuition fees for all 5-year-olds in 2012, and the extension of this programme to 3 and 4-year-olds in 2013, is expected to lead to a steady increase in the proportion of total expenditure from public sources over the coming years.
  • The annual public expenditure per student in Korea is below the OECD average. In 2010, Korea spent, on average, USD 8 198 per student from primary to tertiary education, compared to an OECD average of USD 9 313. However, expenditure per student increased significantly between 2005 and 2010. In that period, expenditure for all levels of education increased by 39%, more than double the average increase across OECD countries for levels below tertiary (17%) and more than four times the average increase for tertiary education (8%). At the tertiary level, Korea has made a significant effort, increasing public expenditure on tertiary educational institutions by 104 percentage points between 2000 and 2010 against an average increase of 35 percentage points for OECD countries.
  • Teachers are well paid in Korea in comparison with teachers in other OECD countries. In 2011, in lower and upper secondary schools, teachers with 15 years of experience and minimum training, earned USD 48 146, significantly more than the OECD average of USD 39 934 for lower secondary and USD 41 665 for upper secondary teachers. With the same level of experience and training, in primary schools, teachers' salaries amounted to USD 48 251, compared to the OECD average of USD 38 136.
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    The following list displays indicators for which your selected country shows the highest and lowest values among countries. The list can be sorted by level of education or by age group. All rankings are calculated including available data from OECD and partner countries. Find out more about the methodology here.

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    Educational outcomes

    The level of upper secondary attainment among 25-34 year-olds is one of the highest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (98 %, rank 1/35 ) Download Indicator

    The level of upper secondary attainment among 55-64 year-olds is one of the lowest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (45 %, rank 29/35 ) Download Indicator

    The level of tertiary attainment among 30-34 year-olds is one of the highest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (64 %, rank 1/34 ) Download Indicator

    The level of tertiary attainment among 25-64 year-olds is one of the highest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (40 %, rank 6/36 ) Download Indicator

    Participation in education

    The percentage of young people expected to graduate from pre-vocational and vocational programmes in upper secondary education in Korea is comparatively low (22 %, rank 30/36 ) Download Indicator

    In Korea, the percentage of today's young people expected to graduate from upper secondary education during their lifetimes is one of the high among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (93 %, rank 4/29 ) Download Indicator

    In Korea, the percentage of today's young men expected to graduate from upper secondary education is one of the highest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (92 %, rank 5/29 ) Download Indicator

    In Korea, the percentage of today's women expected to graduate from upper secondary education is one of the highest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (93 %, rank 10/29 ) Download Indicator

    In Korea, the percentage of today's young people expected to graduate from upper secondary education of general programme is one of the highest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (71 %, rank 3/36 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of upper secondary vocational men graduates who studied Engineering, manufacturing and construction is one of the highest among OECD and G20 countries (60 %, rank 10/25 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of upper secondary vocational men graduates who studied Sciences is one of the highest among OECD and G20 countries (11 %, rank 3/25 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of upper secondary vocational men graduates who studied agriculture is one of the lowest among OECD and G20 countries (2 %, rank 23/25 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of upper secondary vocational women graduates who studied humanities, arts and education is one of the highest among OECD and G20 countries (32 %, rank 2/25 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of upper secondary vocational women graduates who studied health and welfare is one of the lowest among OECD and G20 countries (1 %, rank 23/25 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of upper secondary vocational women graduates who studied social science, business and law is one of the lowest among OECD and G20 countries (24 %, rank 17/25 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of female graduates who studied services in upper secondary vocational programmes is one of the lowest among OECD and G20 countries (5 %, rank 23/25 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of female graduates who studied engineering, manufacturing and construction in upper secondary vocational programmes is one of the highest among OECD and G20 countries (23 %, rank 4/25 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of female graduates who studied sciences in upper secondary vocational programmes is one of the highest among OECD and G20 countries (13 %, rank 1/25 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of female graduates who student agriculture in upper secondary vocational programmes is one of the lowest among OECD and G20 countries (2 %, rank 21/25 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of male graduates who studied humanities, arts and education in upper secondary vocational programmes is one of the highest among OECD and G20 countries (17 %, rank 1/25 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of male graduates who studied health and welfare in upper secondary vocational programmes is one of the lowest among OECD and G20 countries (0 %, rank 22/25 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of male graduates who studied social sciences, business and law in upper secondary vocational programmes is one of the lowest among OECD and G20 countries (7 %, rank 21/25 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of male graduates who studied social services in upper secondary vocational programmes is one of the lowest among OECD and G20 countries (3 %, rank 22/25 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of upper secondary students enrolled in vocational or pre-vocational programmes is one of the smallest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (21 %, rank 34/38 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of all tertiary students in Korea who are international students is one of the lowest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (2 %, rank 28/36 ) Download Indicator

    The change in the number of foreign students in tertiary education in Korea between 2005 and 2011 is one of the largest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (404 %, rank 4/34 ) Download Indicator

    The expected number of years in education for 15-29 year-old men in Korea is one of the highest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (7 %, rank 9/35 ) Download Indicator

    The expected number of years in education for 15-29 year-old women in Korea is one of the lowest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (6 %, rank 26/35 ) Download Indicator

    Resources for education

    In Korea, cumulative expenditure per tertiary student is one of the lowest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (34202 USD Equivalent, rank 16/20 ) Download Indicator

    The change in expenditure between 2005 and 2010 per student at the tertiary level is comparatively large. (135 Index, rank 2/31 ) Download Indicator

    The change in total expenditure between 2005 and 2010 at the tertiary level is comparatively large. (138 Index, rank 7/32 ) Download Indicator

    The change in the number of students between 2005 and 2010 at the tertiary level is comparatively small. (102 Index, rank 24/31 ) Download Indicator

    In Korea public expenditure on educational institutions as a percentage of GDP is comparatively low. (5 %, rank 25/33 ) Download Indicator

    In Korea private expenditure on educational institutions as a percentage of GDP is comparatively high. (3 %, rank 1/29 ) Download Indicator

    In Korea the change in public expenditure between 2008 and 2010 on educational institutions as a percentage of GDP is comparatively large. (111 Index, rank 7/31 ) Download Indicator

    In Korea the change in GDP between 2008 and 2010 is comparatively large. (107 Index, rank 1/34 ) Download Indicator

    The share of private expenditure on pre-primary education is one of the largest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (48 %, rank 2/28 ) Download Indicator

    In Korea public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP is comparatively low. (5 %, rank 26/33 ) Download Indicator

    In Korea the change in public expenditure between 2008 and 2010 on education including subsidies to households is comparatively large. (108 Index, rank 9/30 ) Download Indicator

    The change in public expenditure on education as a percentage of total public expenditure between 2008 and 2010 is one of the largest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (103 Index, rank 8/30 ) Download Indicator

    Public funding to households and other private entities in tertiary education is one of the lowest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (8 %, rank 26/32 ) Download Indicator

    Teachers

    The number of pupils per teacher in pre-primary schools is one of the largest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (16 Students, rank 10/31 ) Download Indicator

    The number of students per teacher in primary schools is one of the largest among OECD countries and G20 countries with available data. (20 Students, rank 8/35 ) Download Indicator

    The ratio of students to teaching staff at the lower secondary level is especially high. (19 Students, rank 4/32 ) Download Indicator

    The ratio of students to teaching staff at the upper secondary level is especially high. (16 Students, rank 10/32 ) Download Indicator

    The number of students per teacher in secondary schools is one of the largest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (17 Students, rank 6/36 ) Download Indicator

    After 15 years of experience, a lower secondary teacher can expect to have one of the highest salaries among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (48146 USD Equivalent, rank 8/32 ) Download Indicator

    After 15 years of experience, an upper secondary teacher can expect to have one of the highest salaries among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (48146 USD Equivalent, rank 9/32 ) Download Indicator

    After 15 years of experience, a pre-primary teacher can expect to have one of the highest salaries among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (46904 USD Equivalent, rank 5/27 ) Download Indicator

    After 15 years of experience, a primary teacher can expect to have one of the highest salaries among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (48251 USD Equivalent, rank 8/33 ) Download Indicator

    The ratio of pre-primary teachers' salaries to earnings for full-time, full-year workers with tertiary education is one of the highest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (1 Ratio, rank 1/22 ) Download Indicator

    The ratio of primary teachers' salaries to earnings for full-time, full-year workers with tertiary education is one of the highest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (1 Ratio, rank 1/27 ) Download Indicator

    The ratio of lower secondary teachers' salaries to earnings for full-time, full-year workers with tertiary education is one of the highest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (1 Ratio, rank 2/27 ) Download Indicator

    The ratio of upper secondary teachers' salaries to earnings for full-time, full-year workers with tertiary education is one of the highest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (1 Ratio, rank 2/27 ) Download Indicator

    The number of days of instruction in a school year in pre-primary school is especially large. (220 Days, rank 5/30 ) Download Indicator

    The number of days of instruction in a school year in primary school is especially large. (220 Days, rank 2/33 ) Download Indicator

    The number of days of instruction in a school year in lower secondary school is especially large. (220 Days, rank 1/30 ) Download Indicator

    The number of days of instruction in a school year in upper secondary school is especially large. (220 Days, rank 1/31 ) Download Indicator

    The number of hours pre-primary teachers spend teaching in public institutions is comparatively small in Korea. (680 Hours, rank 26/29 ) Download Indicator

    Classroom environment

    Intended instruction time for lower secondary students, in hours per year, in Korea is one of the shortest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (850 Hours, rank 24/31 ) Download Indicator

    Total compulsory instruction time for primary students in Korea is one of the shortest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (3795 Hours, rank 24/31 ) Download Indicator

    Total intended instruction time for primary students in Korea is one of the shortest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (3795 Hours, rank 25/31 ) Download Indicator

    Total compulsory instruction time for lower secondary students in Korea is one of the shortest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (2550 Hours, rank 24/31 ) Download Indicator

    Total intended instruction time for lower secondary students in Korea is among the shortest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (2550 Hours, rank 25/31 ) Download Indicator

    Total compulsory instruction time for primary and lower secondary students in Korea is among the shortest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (6345 Hours, rank 25/30 ) Download Indicator

    Total intended instruction time for primary and lower secondary students in Korea is among the shortest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (6345 Hours, rank 27/30 ) Download Indicator

    Compulsory instruction time for primary students, in hours per year, in Korea is one of the shortest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (632 Hours, rank 27/31 ) Download Indicator

    Intended instruction time for primary students, in hours per year, in Korea is one of the shortest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (632 Hours, rank 29/31 ) Download Indicator

    Compulsory instruction time for lower secondary students, in hours per year, in Korea is one of the shortest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (850 Hours, rank 22/31 ) Download Indicator

    Classes are particularly large in lower secondary schools. (34 Students, rank 2/30 ) Download Indicator

    Classes are particularly large in primary schools. (26 Students, rank 5/31 ) Download Indicator

    Economic and social outcomes

    The employment rate among 25-64 year-old men with only primary or pre-primary education is comparatively high. (72 %, rank 7/26 ) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 25-64 year-old women with only primary or pre-primary education is comparatively high. (56 %, rank 3/26 ) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 25-64 year-old individuals with a tertiary education is comparatively low. (77 %, rank 34/36 ) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among individuals without an upper secondary education is comparatively high. (65 %, rank 8/35 ) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among men without an upper secondary education is comparatively high. (78 %, rank 6/35 ) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among women without an upper secondary education is comparatively high. (57 %, rank 6/35 ) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among women with an upper secondary or a post-secondary non-tertiary education is comparatively low. (58 %, rank 30/36 ) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among women with a tertiary education is comparatively low. (60 %, rank 36/36 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of male full-time earners among all earners aged 55 to 64 with below upper secondary education is comparatively high. (90 %, rank 1/14 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of female full-time earners among all earners aged 55 to 64 with below upper secondary education is comparatively high. (76 %, rank 2/13 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of male full-time earners among all earners aged 55 to 64 with upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education is comparatively high. (96 %, rank 1/14 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of female full-time earners among all earners aged 55 to 64 with upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education is comparatively high. (82 %, rank 2/14 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of male full-time earners among all earners aged 55 to 64 with tertiary education is comparatively high. (98 %, rank 1/14 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of female full-time earners among all earners aged 55 to 64 with tertiary education is comparatively high. (86 %, rank 2/14 ) Download Indicator

    Compared with other OECD and G20 countries, the earnings of men without an upper secondary education are relatively high compared to those of men with an upper secondary education. (72 Index, rank 9/17 ) Download Indicator

    Compared with other OECD and G20 countries, the earnings of women without an upper secondary education are relatively high compared to those of women with an upper secondary education. (78 Index, rank 6/18 ) Download Indicator

    Compared with other OECD and G20 countries, the earnings of adults without an upper secondary education are relatively low compared to those of adults with an upper secondary or a post-secondary non-tertiary education. (71 Index, rank 11/18 ) Download Indicator

    Compared with other OECD and G20 countries, the difference in earnings between men with a tertiary education and those with an upper secondary education is quite low. (137 Index, rank 16/18 ) Download Indicator

    Compared with other OECD and G20 countries, the difference in earnings between women with a tertiary education and those with an upper secondary education is quite low. (153 Index, rank 13/18 ) Download Indicator

    Compared with other OECD and G20 countries, the proportional difference in earnings between adults with a tertiary education and those with an upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is quite low. (147 Index, rank 14/18 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of 25-29 year-olds who are neither employed nor in education or training is comparatively large in Korea. (25 %, rank 10/34 ) Download Indicator


    General findings
    • Across almost all OECD countries, upper secondary attainment is the norm. On average, 75% of 25-64 year-olds and 82% of 25-34 year-olds had reached this level of attainment in 2011. However, despite notable strides, some countries remain far below the OECD average in upper secondary attainment. For example, in Mexico, Portugal and Turkey, less than 20% of the population had attained upper secondary education as the highest level of education in 2011.
    • Vocational education and training is a major factor in the educational attainment of people in many countries. In 2011, a vocational upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education was the highest level of attainment for more than 50% of 25-64 year-olds in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia. However, in these countries, people tend to leave education after attaining upper secondary qualifications. In an additional 10 OECD countries, a vocational upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary attainment was the highest educational level for more than 30% of 25-64 year-olds.
    • Tertiary attainment levels have increased considerably over the last decades. On average across OECD countries, the proportion of 25-64 year-olds that hold a tertiary qualification has increased by 4.2% per year since 2000. However, even though tertiary attainment rates have increased in recent years, less than 35% of both men and women had attained a tertiary education in 2011.
    • If current tertiary attainment rates among 25-34 year-olds are maintained, the proportion of adults in France, Ireland, Japan and Korea who have a tertiary education will surpass that of other OECD countries, while the proportion in Austria, Brazil and Germany will fall further behind other OECD countries.
    • Significant progress has been achieved in reducing the gender gap in educational attainment and women have surpassed men in many aspects of education in OECD countries. Among 30-34 year-olds, more than 40% of women had a tertiary education in 2011, surpassing the rate of men with that level of education by about 8 percentage points. Tertiary attainment rates among young women have grown strongly in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Israel, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden, where 50% or more of younger women in that age group had attained tertiary education in 2011.
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    • Across OECD countries, employment rates are highest among people who have a tertiary education; and these individuals are also most likely to be employed full time.
    • Unemployment rates are nearly three times higher among individuals who do not have an upper secondary education (13% on average across OECD countries in 2011) than among those who have a tertiary education (5% in 2011).
    • Individuals who have at least an upper secondary education have a greater chance of being employed than those without that level of education.
    • Gender differences in employment rates are smallest among tertiary-educated individuals and largest among men and women who do not have an upper secondary education.
    • In all OECD countries, adults with tertiary education earn more than adults with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education, who, in turn, earn more than adults with a below upper secondary education.
    • On average across OECD countries, the difference in earnings between younger and older workers increases with educational attainment, benefitting more educated older workers. The earnings premium for tertiary-educated 55-64 year-olds is generally larger than that for all tertiary educated workers: in 2011, on average, the earnings differential between these two groups increased by 16 percentage points.
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    • In 2011, on average across OECD countries, 16% of 15-29 year-olds were neither employed nor in education or training (NEET) (7% unemployed and 9% inactive), as were 8% of 15-19 year-olds (2.7% unemployed and 5.8% inactive), and 20% of 25-29 year-olds (8% unemployed and 12% inactive).
    • In Chile, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Spain and Turkey, more than 20% of 15-29 year-olds were NEET in 2011 compared to less than 10% in Austria, Iceland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. Unemployment levels are particularly worrying in Greece (14.6% in 2011) and Spain (17.0% in 2011), as is inactivity among young people in those countries (7.1% and 7.5%, respectively, in 2011).
    • On average across OECD countries in 2011, 18% of 15-29 year-old women were NEET (12% inactive and 6% unemployed) as were 13% of 15-29 year-old men (7% unemployed and 6% inactive).
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    • In 2010, OECD countries spent an average of 6.3% of their GDP on educational institutions. Out of the 33 countries for which data were available, this proportion exceeded 7% in Denmark, Iceland, Israel, Korea, New Zealand, Norway and the United States. Only the Czech Republic, Hungary Italy, the Russian Federation and the Slovak Republic spent less than 5% of their GDP on educational institutions.
    • On average, OECD countries spent USD 9 313 annually per student from primary through tertiary education in 2010: USD 7 974 per primary student, USD 9 014 per secondary student and USD 13 528 per tertiary student. Spending per pre-primary student amounted to USD 6 762 per year.
    • While there was no clear global trend in how the proportion of public expenditure on education evolved during the economic crisis, in 14 out of the 30 countries with available data, public expenditure on education grew at a faster rate than public expenditure on all other services between 2008 and 2010.
    • Public funding accounted for 84% of all funds for educational institutions on average in OECD countries in 2010, and between 2000 and 2010, public funding increased for all levels of education combined. However, more pressure has been put on households to share the cost of education, and private funding increased at an even greater rate in more than three-quarters of countries. The share of public and private investment in education differs among education levels. Tertiary institutions and, to a lesser extent, pre-primary institutions obtain the largest proportions of funds from private sources (32% and 18%, respectively, in 2010).
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    • The ratio of students to teaching staff varies across OECD countries and levels of education. At the primary level, there were more than 15 students for every teacher on average in OECD countries in 2011. In most countries, the student-teacher ratio decreases between primary and lower secondary school, despite an increase in class size. In 2011, there were, on average, about 14 students per teacher at the secondary level. At the tertiary level, there were, on average, about 16 students per teacher in OECD countries.
    • The number of teaching hours per teacher in public schools in 2011 averaged 790 hours per year in primary education, 709 hours in lower secondary education, and 664 hours in upper secondary education.
    • Teachers' statutory salaries vary widely across countries, but often increase with the level of education. In 2011, the statutory salaries of teachers with at least 15 years of experience averaged USD 36 135 at the pre-primary level, USD 38 136 at the primary level, USD 39 934 at the lower secondary level, and USD 41 665 at the upper secondary level. Between 2000 and 2011, teachers' salaries increased in real terms in most countries.
    • On average in OECD countries, pre-primary school teachers' salaries in 2011 amounted to 80% of full-time, full-year earnings of tertiary-educated adults working in different occupations. Primary school teachers' salaries amounted to 82% of that income, lower secondary school teachers' salaries amounted to 85% of that benchmark, and upper secondary school teachers' salaries amounted to 89% of those earnings.
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    Note: These values should be interpreted with care since they are influenced by countries' specific contexts and trade-offs. In education, there is often no simple most- or least-efficient model. For instance, the share of private expenditure in education must be read against other measures designed to mitigate inequities, such as loans and grants; longer learning time is an opportunity to convey more and better content to students, but may hinder investments in other important areas. If you want further information on the nature of different variables, please take the time to read the analysis and contextual information, available at the website for each publication.
    All rankings for individual variables are compiled on the basis of OECD and G20 countries for which data are available. The OECD average includes only OECD countries which are listed here: http://www.oecd.org/about/membersandpartners/

    *TALIS averages are based on all countries participating in the TALIS survey, including partner countries and economies. This explains the difference between the OECD average and the TALIS average. Data from the TALIS survey and Education at a Glance (EAG) may differ. See Annex E of the TALIS technical report and Annex 3 of EAG for more details about the data collections.

    For additional notes, please refer to annexes in the list of links below the introductory country profile text.