The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea enforces compulsory free education, the level of which is highest of its kind in the world. It adheres to the principle of bringing schools closer to students.
Principle of Building Schools
Wherever there are children at school age, there is a school whether it be a remote mountainous village or a far-flung island. If schoolchildren have to cross a river or a mountain on their way to school, the state builds a school in their village.
This is all attributable to the leadership of President Kim Il Sung (1912-1994), founding father of socialist Korea, who put forth children as kings and queens of the country and spared nothing for them.
After the liberation of Korea on August 15, 1945 from the military occupation of Japan (1905-1945) Kim Il Sung regarded education as a pivotal problem that has a bearing on the destiny of the country and paid close attention to it. A good example is the discussion of the issue of pencil production as an item of the first agenda at the First Session of the Provisional People’s Committee of North Korea held on February 20, 1946.
Immediately after liberation he was asked by an educational official at a meeting of educationists whether a school should be built for 10 or 20 students in a place like a village of slash-and-burn farmers or a tree-feller’s village. At that time there were many such villages in Korea as an aftermath of the colonial rule by Japanese imperialism.
Kim Il Sung answered; in the past students went to a school and asked for entry, but today we should establish the principle of going to students, building school wherever they are and teaching them. During his field guidance at Yangdok County, South Phyongan Province, a mountainous area in the central part of the DPRK, in September 1947, he learned that pupils were going to school situated far away and took a measure for building a branch school for them.
Since then, a new history of building branch schools has started in the DPRK.
Schools for a Few Students
All the children at school age enjoy the benefit of 12-year compulsory education in the DPRK, which has been enforcing universal compulsory free education for over half a century. A well-planned network of education covering even remote mountainous villages and solitary lighthouse islands is a sure guarantee for this.
The DPRK has more than one thousand branch schools. Those for less than 10 students number over one hundred, and more than 500 for less than 20 students each.
In the last decade many of them have been built.
In the depth of mountains of Ryanggang Province on the northern tip of the country such schools have been built according to the instructions given by Chairman Kim Jong Il (1942-2011) during his on-site guidance at the construction site of the Samsu Power Station. In Taehongdan County, which is called the “highest village under the sky,” there are branch schools in every branch farm. There are over ten such schools in Kim Hyong Gwon, Pungso, Unhung and Samsu counties, respectively; the number of them for less than 20 students amounts to over 80.
A few years ago 10 students living in Kom Island, a solitary island in Unryul County on the west coast, entered the Komsom Branch School under the Kumsan Primary School.
There is a branch school for one student in Suun Island in Sinuiju in the northern border area.
True to the educational policy of the Workers’ Party of Korea many educationists volunteer to go to such branch schools.
Last year 23-year-old Jo Pom Hyang, who graduated from the math faculty of Kim Hyong Jik University of Education, volunteered to teach at the branch school on an island off the west coast. Particularly interested in music, the girl had learned how to play the piano and accordion at the music group of the Pyongyang Students and Children’s Palace, a famous base of extra curricula education in the country, from her primary school days. She was also gifted in literature, so she could compose both lyrics and music. Proficient in basic subjects, she had been enrolled at the Computer School under the Pyongyang University of Computer Technology, and afterwards entered Kim Hyong Jik University of Education. Then she volunteered to the school in the remote island far from the capital city where her parents are still living.
Bright and promising is the future of socialist Korea, which attaches importance to education.