The strengths of initial teacher preparation in Korea lie in its orientation to excellence – an agreed purpose and value of education, the high quality of teacher candidates and the enduring high status of and competitive entry to the profession. Korea’s greatest challenges are the disconnect between theory and practice, and lack of feedback loops to support continuous improvement within the ITP system. The current and prevailing policy discourse around the 4th Industrial Revolution indicates a willingness to innovate and align the ITP system and its numerous stakeholders, which will provide valuable opportunities to strengthen initial teacher preparation in the future.

Who's who in ITP in Korea?

From 4 to 8 December 2017, the OECD Review team spoke to more than 100 different stakeholders in national government and government agencies, offices of education, teacher education institutions, schools, associations and teacher unions in Seoul, Sejong and Gyeong-gi.

Meet the stakeholders
National ministry of education

National ministry of education

Ministry of Education

The Ministry of Education (MOE) is responsible for setting the regulatory framework for higher education. The MOE’s responsibilities regarding ITP are to:

  1. Regulate the content of initial teacher education programmes and certification requirements for teacher candidates.
  2. Establish policies for evaluating teacher education institutions and the basic direction of the evaluation as well as implements the follow-up measures using evaluation results.

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Korea Educational Development Institute

The Korea Educational Development Institute (KEDI) is a government-funded national research institute and education policy thinktank. Established in 1972, KEDI’s mission is to strengthen research and development; promote access, disseminiation and use of R&D results; and establish a concrete platform for innovation. Regarding ITP, KEDI develops assessment models and indicators to evaluate initial teacher education programmes; establishes detailed implementation plans of evaluation; undertakes a practical assessment; and produces and disseminates evaluation results.

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Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation

The Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation (KICE) is a government-funded education resarch institute established in 1998 to “improve the quality of education by conducting a wide range of research on curriculum and evaluation in primary and secondary education”. KICE develops questionnaire items and scoring for the the first and second rounds of the Teachers’ Employment Examination. It also develops the national curriculum, recently revised in 2015, the College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT) and all school textbooks in Korea.

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The Korea Educational Development Institute (KEDI) is a government-funded national research institute and education policy thinktank. Established in 1972, KEDI’s mission is to strengthen research and development; promote access, disseminiation and use of R&D results; and establish a concrete platform for innovation. Regarding ITP, KEDI develops assessment models and indicators to evaluate initial teacher education programmes; establishes detailed implementation plans of evaluation; undertakes a practical assessment; and produces and disseminates evaluation results.

Learn more

 

The Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation (KICE) is a government-funded education resarch institute established in 1998 to “improve the quality of education by conducting a wide range of research on curriculum and evaluation in primary and secondary education”. KICE develops questionnaire items and scoring for the the first and second rounds of the Teachers’ Employment Examination. It also develops the national curriculum, recently revised in 2015, the College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT) and all school textbooks in Korea.

Learn more

 

Sub-national authorities

Sub-national authorities

Offices of Education

There are 17 metropolitan and provincial Offices of Education in Korea. Offices of Education are responsible for:

  1. Administering the examinations and interviews as part of the two-stage Teacher Employment Examinations.
  2. Selecting, hiring and allocating teachers to schools in their jurisdiction.
  3. Providing pre- and post-employment training for new teachers.
Sejong Office of Education

Located 120 km to the south of Seoul, Sejong became the 17th provincial office in Korea in 2007. An administrative district, 40 government ministries and 14 national institutes have moved to Sejong since the city opened in 2012.

Area: 465 km2

Population: 270 002 (2017)

Students: 16 711 (secondary) (2017)

Schools: 20 lower secondary schools; 16 upper secondary schools; 1 vocational; and 1 special education school (2017)

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Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education

Seoul is divided into 25 gu or districts, which vary greatly in area (from 10 to 47 km2) and population (from fewer than 140 000 to 630 000 inhabitants).

Area: 605 km2

Population: 9 838 892 (2018, city)

Students: 2 552 969 (2017)

Schools: 384 lower secondary schools; 320 upper secondary schools; 80 vocational schools; and 29 special education schools (2017)

Learn more

 

Gyeong-gi Provincial Office of Education

Gyeong-gi Province, adjacent to Seoul, is the most populated province in Korea.

Area: 10 171 km 2

Population: 12.34 million (2014)

Students: 789 695

Schools: 1 097

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Located 120 km to the south of Seoul, Sejong became the 17th provincial office in Korea in 2007. An administrative district, 40 government ministries and 14 national institutes have moved to Sejong since the city opened in 2012.

Area: 465 km2

Population: 270 002 (2017)

Students: 16 711 (secondary) (2017)

Schools: 20 lower secondary schools; 16 upper secondary schools; 1 vocational; and 1 special education school (2017)

Learn more

Seoul is divided into 25 gu or districts, which vary greatly in area (from 10 to 47 km2) and population (from fewer than 140 000 to 630 000 inhabitants).

Area: 605 km2

Population: 9 838 892 (2018, city)

Students: 2 552 969 (2017)

Schools: 384 lower secondary schools; 320 upper secondary schools; 80 vocational schools; and 29 special education schools (2017)

Learn more

 

Gyeong-gi Province, adjacent to Seoul, is the most populated province in Korea.

Area: 10 171 km 2

Population: 12.34 million (2014)

Students: 789 695

Schools: 1 097

Learn more

Teacher education institutions

Teacher education institutions

Universities and university colleges

The Ministry of Education sets the regulatory frameworks for the content of teacher education programmes in Korea so teacher education institutions have little autonomy to develop curricula but they do have greater autonomy to set admission requirements and mechanisms into their programmes.

Teacher educators

Teacher educators (professors, associate professors, etc.) do not require teaching experience. According to the “Elementary and Secondary Education Act”, professors and associate professors can apply for a 1st-degree teacher certificate after completing three years of teaching experience at any ITE institutions.

Teacher candidates

In Korea, all teacher candidates are required to study subject knowledge (content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge) and general pedagogical knowledge (general pedagogical knowledge, “knowledge for teaching profession” and “practical component”). The practical component is composed of 4 weeks teaching practicum during the first semester of the fourth year and volunteering activities.

Korea National University of Education

Criteria for selection: One of the largest teacher education institutions in Korea, Korea National University of Education is a national university specialising in pre- and in-service teacher training and educational research. It comprises four colleges and three graduate schools.

Number of ITE programmes: 24 undergraduate programmes and 50 programmes in the three graduate schools from four fields of study.

No. of ITE enrolments: 5 630 students, including 2 393 undergraduates and 3 237 postgraduates

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Ewha Womans University

Criteria for selection: A private womens’ university college founded in 1915, Ewha is “committed to educating female teachers and educational experts”. The College of Education has 12 academic departments, four research centres, four affiliated schools, and teacher training centres for both pre-service and in-service teachers.

Number of ITE programmes: 19

No. of ITE enrolments: 2 500 undergraduates and about 550 postgraduates (2011)

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Seoul National University

Criteria for selection: Established in 1946, the College of Education at Seoul National University has 15 academic departments, two professional development institutes, four affiliated schools, and many outreach services.

Number of ITE programmes: 15 undergraduate

No. of ITE enrolments: 2 950 (2015)

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Gyeong-gi Training Institute of Education

Criteria for selection: Gyeong-gi Training Institute of Education is one of six training institutes in the province providing 5-day pre-employment training for 1 787 new secondary teachers and 1 035 new primary teachers. This institute also provides post-employment training, school-based training, on-line courses and hosts many professional learning communities.

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Criteria for selection: One of the largest teacher education institutions in Korea, Korea National University of Education is a national university specialising in pre- and in-service teacher training and educational research. It comprises four colleges and three graduate schools.

Number of ITE programmes: 24 undergraduate programmes and 50 programmes in the three graduate schools from four fields of study.

No. of ITE enrolments: 5 630 students, including 2 393 undergraduates and 3 237 postgraduates

Learn more

Criteria for selection: A private womens’ university college founded in 1915, Ewha is “committed to educating female teachers and educational experts”. The College of Education has 12 academic departments, four research centres, four affiliated schools, and teacher training centres for both pre-service and in-service teachers.

Number of ITE programmes: 19

No. of ITE enrolments: 2 500 undergraduates and about 550 postgraduates (2011)

Learn more

Criteria for selection: Established in 1946, the College of Education at Seoul National University has 15 academic departments, two professional development institutes, four affiliated schools, and many outreach services.

Number of ITE programmes: 15 undergraduate

No. of ITE enrolments: 2 950 (2015)

Learn more

Criteria for selection: Gyeong-gi Training Institute of Education is one of six training institutes in the province providing 5-day pre-employment training for 1 787 new secondary teachers and 1 035 new primary teachers. This institute also provides post-employment training, school-based training, on-line courses and hosts many professional learning communities.

Learn more

Teacher educators
Teacher candidates
Schools

Schools

Schools

In Korea, schools and school councils are responsible for supporting new teachers, promoting teachers and arranging professional development with the support of Offices of Education.

School management

According to the “Elementary and Secondary Education Act”, school principals can be promoted to the position but require at least three years’ experience as a vice-principal. A principal can also be appointed through the “open principal employment system”, that is through an open competition or invitation from an external institute.

  • Experienced teachers

    In Korea, teachers can upgrade to a 1st-class certificate after three years of experience and required in-service qualification training. A Grade I certificate allows them to apply for more advanced positions, such as principal or Master Teacher.

  • 2nd career teachers

    In Korea, 2nd career teachers must complete regular ITE programmes, be awarded certification and sit the Teacher Employment Examinations.

  • Mentor teachers

    In Korea, the level of support for new teachers depends on the school leader, who may select mentor teacher(s), for example homeroom and subject-specific teachers, from the pedagogical team. However, a certified Master Teacher with more than 15 years of experience and 180 hours of training may be allocated to the school by the Office of Education to support new teachers.

  • New teachers

    In Korea, new teachers usually start their teaching career as homeroom teachers and/or as subject teachers of their specialised area(s).

Inwang Middle School, Seoul

Criteria for selection: Inwang Middle School was established in 2010. Despite its short history, the school is well-known for its innovative education.

Location: Seodaemoon-gu, Seoul

Enrolments: 513, of which 177 1st-year students; 159 2nd year-students; 177 3rd-year students(2018).

Teaching staff: 54 (2018)

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Suwon High School for Agricultural Science, Suwon

Criteria for selection: A provincial agricultural high school founded in 1936, the college offers employment-related projects and programmes for secondary students.

Location: Suwon City, Gyeong-go Province

Enrolments: 846, of which 288 1st-year students; 283 2nd-year students and 275 3rd-year students (2017)

Teaching staff: 121, including 8 farm and engineering technicians (2017)

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Criteria for selection: Inwang Middle School was established in 2010. Despite its short history, the school is well-known for its innovative education.

Location: Seodaemoon-gu, Seoul

Enrolments: 513, of which 177 1st-year students; 159 2nd year-students; 177 3rd-year students(2018).

Teaching staff: 54 (2018)

Learn more

Criteria for selection: A provincial agricultural high school founded in 1936, the college offers employment-related projects and programmes for secondary students.

Location: Suwon City, Gyeong-go Province

Enrolments: 846, of which 288 1st-year students; 283 2nd-year students and 275 3rd-year students (2017)

Teaching staff: 121, including 8 farm and engineering technicians (2017)

Learn more

School management
Experienced teachers
2nd career teachers
Mentor teachers
New teachers
National associations

National associations

There are several professional associations for teachers and school principals in Korea, the largest of which is the Korea Federation of Teacher’s Associations. These associations seek to inform teacher policy in general, including in-service teacher training and professional improvement issues.

Korea Federation of Teacher's Associations

The Korea Federation of Teacher’s Associations (KFTA) is the largest professional association in South Korea. Founded in 1947 as the Chosun Education Association, it is composed of more than 170 000 members representing 40% of Korean educators including teachers, college professors, and prospective teachers. The Principals’ Council and Vice Principals’ Council are professional associations of the KFTA. The KFTA’s main objectives are to accomplish quality public education and teacher’s professionalism. The KFTA has 17 metropolitan and provincial federations of teachers’ associations, and 26 functional and affiliated organisations.

Learn more

The Korea Federation of Teacher’s Associations (KFTA) is the largest professional association in South Korea. Founded in 1947 as the Chosun Education Association, it is composed of more than 170 000 members representing 40% of Korean educators including teachers, college professors, and prospective teachers. The Principals’ Council and Vice Principals’ Council are professional associations of the KFTA. The KFTA’s main objectives are to accomplish quality public education and teacher’s professionalism. The KFTA has 17 metropolitan and provincial federations of teachers’ associations, and 26 functional and affiliated organisations.

Learn more

Teacher unions

Teacher unions

In Korea there is one principal teachers’ union – for mostly public school teachers, private schools teachers and university staff.

Korean Teachers’ Union

The Korean Teachers’ Union (KTU) is composed of 77 000 members, including 36 000 public and private school teachers. Their membership, especially among young teachers, has dwindled since the KTU was officially recognised in 1999. At the time of writing, KTU was declared an illegal union by the Seoul Higher Administrative Court – and it has been awaiting final judgement by the Supreme Court for two years.

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The Korean Teachers’ Union (KTU) is composed of 77 000 members, including 36 000 public and private school teachers. Their membership, especially among young teachers, has dwindled since the KTU was officially recognised in 1999. At the time of writing, KTU was declared an illegal union by the Seoul Higher Administrative Court – and it has been awaiting final judgement by the Supreme Court for two years.

Learn more

The OECD ITP study focused on which levels of education in Korea?

KOREA’S FOCUS WAS ON SECONDARY EDUCATION

Who contributed to the OECD ITP study in Korea?

A national co-ordinator was nominated by each participating country to manage the ITP study with the OECD and the 4-person OECD Review Team.

Meet the team
NATIONAL
CO-ORDINATORS
OECD
REVIEW TEAM
OBSERVERS
NATIONAL
CO-ORDINATORS
Sue Bin Jeon
Researcher,
Dongguk University
Hwan Young Jang
Professor,
Dongguk University
OECD
REVIEW TEAM
Tracey Burns
Senior Analyst, OECD Centre
for Education Research
and Innovation
Hannah von Ahlefeld
Project Lead, 
OECD Initial Teacher 
Preparation Study
Philippa Cordingley
Chief Executive,
CUREE, United Kingdom
Emund Misson
Deputy Director,
AITSL
OBSERVERS
Makito Yurita
Senior Researcher Fellow,
NITS, Japan
Toril Fiva
Senior Advisor, Ministry of
Education and Research, Norway

OECD wishes to thank…

The team is grateful to the Ministry of Education for organising our visit to Korea.