North Korea elites devoting money to private education for children

SEOUL, July 6 (UPI) — North Koreans with the financial resources are increasingly turning to private education for their children.

Families who seek the best schools and teachers for their children are devoting more money and time for supplementary education, and some are sending their children overseas, a source from Pyongyang told Radio Free Asia.

The source said parents live with the goal of sending their children to a “good university in Pyongyang or abroad.”

“‘Let’s send them to Pyongyang!’ and ‘Let’s send them to a foreign country’ are to be heard all around,” the source said.

The source also said although the quality of private tutoring in Pyongyang and other parts of North Korea are similar, education costs vary by subject matter.

“Basic” subjects like mathematics and physics cost about $15 a month and more technical courses in computing cost between $30 and $75.

Parents also strongly encourage their children to pursue extracurricular activities, like learning a musical instrument. Piano lessons and taekwondo classes are popular choices, the source said.

Well-to-do North Korean families can typically spend up to $150 a month on after-school classes, the source said, but the rise of private education has also led to an increase in bribes.

In order to keep children out of state-mandated duties like voluntary labor and some “regular classes,” parents are giving teachers kickbacks.

Providers of private education include both retired and current college professors, middle teachers and technology workers.

“It will be difficult to eradicate private tutoring although North Korean security officials are vetting the practice, because most of the students are children of state executives,” the source said.

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