Korea has been revising its national curriculum for primary and secondary education in an ongoing process that began in 2015. One set of reforms took place between 2015 and 2020, with a focus on moving from a knowledge-based approach to teaching and learning to a competence-based, student-centred approach. With this in mind, the curriculum centres on six core competences to be developed throughout a young person’s education: self-management; knowledge-information processing; creative thinking; aesthetic and emotional competency; communication skills; and community competence. Major reforms at the primary school level included strengthening Korean language education and introducing courses that encourage students’ active participation. Reforms to the middle school curriculum involved full implementation of the ‘free semester’ programme (2013), which lessens the burden of test preparation. As well as reducing student stress, the ‘free semester’ allows students to pursue career-related activities, with innovative assessment methods. A 2014 survey found that the programme had increased student, teacher and parent satisfaction. Since 2018, Korea has been laying the foundations for Artificial Intelligence (AI) education by gradually expanding software education in primary and middle schools. Korea opened 247 AI pilot schools and 34 designated high schools in 2020 to develop models for AI education.

Korea is currently working on further revisions to the curriculum, which will gradually be implemented in primary schools from 2024 and in secondary schools from 2025. This has involved revisiting the core competences with a focus on enabling learners to adapt to future change. Korea also plans to involve key stakeholders such as students, teachers, parents and metropolitan and provincial offices of education in the process, and to establish a curriculum development governance system that encourages the participation of the general public (National information provided to the OECD).

Further reading: OECD (2019[6]), Education Policy Outlook 2019: Working Together to Help Students Achieve their Potential, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/2b8ad56e-en.

Korea has implemented several measures to strengthen the digital capacities of pre-service and in-service teachers since the COVID-19 outbreak. A more recent effort is the Knowledge Spring (2020), a personalised teacher training platform, allowing users to select content and resources based on their identified needs, with expert teachers providing the content. It promotes collaboration between teachers across the country (OECD, 2021[7]). Korea has also formed a "10 000 community" to support remote classes for teachers in the online school opening situation. This community brings together representative teachers, the Ministry of Education, the provincial offices of education, and related organisations to support distance learning at school sites. In this community, teachers try to find and solve problems that may arise during remote classes through online communication. These measures are supported by 495 pilot schools for online education whose teachers share best practices across the system. Korea has also established Future Education Centres at higher education institutions of initial teacher training to strengthen the digital competencies of pre-service teachers, as well as other skills that students will need for their future; 10 centres opened in 2020 with a further 18 opening during 2021 (National information provided to the OECD).

Further reading: Ministry of Education of Korea (2020[8]), The Community of 10 000 Representative Teachers, http://english.moe.go.kr/boardCnts/view.do?boardID=72731&boardSeq=80548&lev=0&searchType=null&statusYN=W&page=1&s=english&m=0701&opType=N (accessed on 1 April 2021).


Ministry of Education of Korea (2020), The Community of 10 000 Representative Teachers, http://english.moe.go.kr/boardCnts/view.do?boardID=72731&boardSeq=80548&lev=0&searchType=null&statusYN=W&page=1&s=english&m=0701&opType=N (accessed on 1 April 2021). [8]

OECD (2021), The State of School Education: One Year into the COVID Pandemic, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/201dde84-en. [7]

OECD (2020), Learning remotely when schools close: How well are students and schools prepared? Insights from PISA, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/3bfda1f7-en. [2]

OECD (2020), TALIS 2018 Results (Volume II): Teachers and School Leaders as Valued Professionals, TALIS, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/19cf08df-en. [1]

OECD (2019), Education Policy Outlook 2019: Working Together to Help Students Achieve their Potential, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/2b8ad56e-en. [6]

OECD (2019), PISA 2018 Results (Volume II): Where All Students Can Succeed, PISA, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/b5fd1b8f-en. [4]

OECD (2019), PISA 2018 Results (Volume III): What School Life Means for Students’ Lives, PISA, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/acd78851-en. [5]

OECD (2019), TALIS 2018 Results (Volume I): Teachers and School Leaders as Lifelong Learners, TALIS, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/1d0bc92a-en. [3]

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