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Welfare Reform and Social Investment PolicyInternational Lessons and Policy Implications$
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Young Jun Choi, Timo Fleckenstein, and Soohyun Lee

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781447352730

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447352730.001.0001

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Private education in South Korea: lessons for the West from past mistakes

Private education in South Korea: lessons for the West from past mistakes

(p.61) 3 Private education in South Korea: lessons for the West from past mistakes
Welfare Reform and Social Investment Policy

Sonia Exley

Policy Press

This chapter studies the consequences of excessive private social investment and the government's struggle to tackle private tutoring in Korea. It argues that the country is a critical case in the study of private social investments because it has the most extensive engagement in shadow education across the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) world. The chapter demonstrates the three main ways that the Korean government has endeavoured to curtail private tutoring, and how all these reforms have had limited success to date. It then suggests that the drivers of the shadow education frenzy might lie outside the area of education policy, pointing to the 'hakbul' traditions in Korean society (that is, the strong belief that a degree from a few elite universities is imperative for securing high-status, well-paid jobs) as a driver of excessive shadow education. Ultimately, the chapter seeks to deliver some insights, considering policy lessons and recommendations not only for South Korea but also for Western societies where spending on private education is growing. It draws on data from a 2017 research project in which interviews were carried out by the author with 29 experts and key stakeholders in the South Korean education system.

Keywords:   private social investment, private tutoring, Korea, shadow education, Korean government, South Korean education

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