1. National guidelines and legislation on ITP

Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Korea (2009). The 3rd Period Basic Plan for Promotion of Evaluation on Teacher Training Institutions.

The 3rd Period Basic Plan specifies how to use evaluation results of initial teacher education programmes: 1) Teacher training institutions use them to establish self-improvement plans and revamp ITE programmes, 2) The government uses them to improve the quality of ITE programmes and implement administrational and financial measures on those which have low grade of evaluations, 3) The public use them as a reference for selecting a university. The evaluation results are divided into 4 grades depending on each training course level (department level, teacher training course level, and college level), which were an “A” grade (excellence), a “B” grade (average), a “C” grade (inadequacy), and a “D” grade (incongruity). The MOE designated 8 colleges of education which obtained an “A” as teacher training leader colleges and supported a billion won every year for 4 years (a total of 4 billion won) from 2011. On the other hand, institutions with poor evaluation results must reduce the admissions quota. Teacher training institutions which obtained a “C” (inadequacy) or lower must be re-evaluated after one year. The institutions which obtained a “C” (inadequacy) or lower in re-evaluation had to reduce the admission quota.

Ministry of Education, Korea (2015). The 4th Period Basic Plan for Promotion of Evaluation on Teacher Training Institutions.

The purpose of the 4th Period Basic Plan is to allow the government to better manage the quality of teacher training by comprehensively assessing the educational conditions, curriculum, and achievements of teacher training institutions. Teacher education institutions are divided into 6 types – college of education, teacher training course at a university, graduate school of education, graduate school of education (retraining function), university of education, and vocational college – and characteristics of each type are evaluated to develop 22 indicators (12 quantitative indicators, 8 qualitative indicators, and 2 mixed indicators). The 4th period evaluation introduces diverse qualitative indicators (e.g. development plans and implementation outcomes) to comprehensively evaluate qualitative aspects of teacher training institutions. Evaluation results are published to provide prospective teachers and parents with a reliable reference for each teacher training institution. The 4th period has 5 grades: “A” (excellence), “B” (average), “C” (inadequacy), “D” (incongruity), and “E” (abolition). The institutions or courses which received an “E” (abolish) must be closed down. The schools which received a “C” must secure a 30% reduction in the admission quota and the schools which received a “D” must secure a 50% reduction in the number of new students.

Ministry of Education, Korea (2013, revised 29 December 2017), Teachers Certification Decree. No. 28521.

This act states the requirements for teacher certification. To acquire a 2nd-grade teacher certificate, the minimum requirements by law should be satisfied. First, candidates should achieve more than 50 credits in the subject knowledge of their majors (mandatory subjects: more than 7 subjects and 21 credits) and also more than 22 credits in the general pedagogical knowledge (more than 12 credits in general pedagogical theories and 6 credits in knowledge for teaching profession, and 4 credits in practical component). In addition, candidates should achieve more than 75 points out of a 100-point scale in average in the subject knowledge of their majors, and more than 80 points out of a 100-point scale in the general pedagogical knowledge.

Ministry of Education, Korea (2017), Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Act No. 14603, Mar. 21, 2017.

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act is the blueprint for the Korean education system. Regarding initial teacher preparation, Article 21 describes the qualifications of educational personnel – teacher candidates, assistant teachers, school teachers, vice principals, principals, school librarian teachers, school health teachers, nutrition teachers, and counseling teachers – who are classified by level of education and certification type. According to the law, those in-service teachers who have 2nd-grade teacher certificates are allowed to acquire 1st-grade teacher certificates if they meet the required years of teaching experience(three years) or one year of teaching experience with a Master’s degree.


2. Policy and research on ITP

Dongguk University and Ministry of Education Korea (2017), Country Background Report. OECD Initial Teacher Preparation Study. Korea, Research Institute for Teacher Policy, Seoul.

This is a self-evaluation report providing background information for the team of experts visiting Korea as part of the OECD Initial Teacher Preparation study. It outlines issues and challenges along the six stages of the OECD Teacher Education pathway: attracting candidates into initial teacher education (ITE), selection into ITE programmes, what teacher candidates need to know and do, ensuring quality delivery of ITE programmes, teacher certification and hiring, and support for new teachers.

Im, S.-H. Yoon and J. Cha (2016), “Pre-service science teacher education system in South Korea: prospects and challenges”, Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science & Technology Education, Vol. 12/7, pp. 1863-1880.

In Korea, little is known about science teacher education, although the authors present Korea as having a “unique initial teacher education system for science education” in which elementary and secondary teacher education institutions are separated and the government controls the qualification of teachers by regulating the coursework required for teacher certification. Korea also has a strong tradition emphasising content knowledge and PCK – and an oversupply of qualified science teachers. The authors believe that gaining an understanding of science education in Korea requires understanding the science teacher education system and the ways of leveraging quality science teacher preparation. This study critically reviews the current state of the science teacher education system in South Korea in terms of the outcomes and institutional backgrounds, such as associated law and policy, teacher education curriculum, recruiting system and examinations. A review is conducted of the previous literature, official documents and statistics from the Korean government, and curricular documents from some teacher education institutions. The paper concludes with a discussion on the upcoming issues in science teacher education within the socio-cultural context of Korea and offers lessons to the international science education community.


Kim, E. (2007), “The quality and qualifications of the teaching force in the Republic of Korea”, in Ingersoll, R. (ed.), A Comparative Study of Teacher Preparation and Qualifications in Six Nations, CPRE, Philadelphia, PA.

The study compares the teacher preparation and qualifications in six countries and economies. Chapter 5 focuses on Korea’s initial teacher preparation system and the author outlines teachers’ education programmes, the types of teaching certifications and teachers’ qualifications in Korea. The author also describes the issue of out-of-field teachers in Korea – defined as teachers who teach subjects for which they have not attained specialised knowledge during initial teacher education – which is little understood and poses a challenge especially in small schools. The author draws conclusion that despite the apparent match between quality and quantity in the Korean system, the fundamental challenge facing Korea’s education system today is “to come up with a systemic reform in which teacher professionalism is fully developed through the phases of initial education, certification, and assignment. At the secondary-school level, the oversupply of prospective teachers has been exaggerated over time, which undermined recognition of the problem of hidden shortages. In order to guarantee that each and every school is equipped with fully qualified teachers, more attention should be paid to the problem of out-of-field teaching.”


Kim, E.-J. Kim and Y. Han (2009), Secondary Teacher Policy Research in Asia: Secondary Education and Teacher Quality in the Republic of Korea, UNESCO, Bangkok.

This book is one of a series on comparative assessment of issues and policies affecting secondary teachers in five countries in East and South-East Asia, including Korea. The series explores three major areas related to secondary teachers in each country. First, the report describes the quantitative analysis of demand and supply of secondary teachers, which in Korea is marked by a dramatic and successful quantitative expansion of Korean secondary education and the role of the private sector to finance this expansion, in addition to a shortage of teaching jobs for new graduates in this field and the related oversupply of teachers. Second, the report explores the quality of secondary teachers, which the authors describe as the “Korean paradox”. So while Korea outperforms most countries in international assessments, including problem-solving, parental socio-economic backgrounds has little impact on performance, and teachers themselves have strong academic backgrounds, Korean parents and their children express considerable dissatisfaction with teachers and the quality of education being received, attributing success to private tutoring. Third, the report explores teacher compensation, which is high in Korea compared to other countries as a result of government policy to limit the expansion of the size of the teaching force, rather than lower class size.


Korean Educational Development Institute (2012), Successful Strategy for Training Teachers in Korean Education, Korean Educational Development Institute, Seoul.

This report presents the current strategy for initial teacher education (ITE) in Korea. It covers the history and changes in teacher and ITE policy in Korea, outcomes of ITE policies, and various implications that can be drawn from Korea’s experience with ITE. Chapter 1 presents the general ITE system and the development of teacher education institutions for primary and secondary teachers. Chapter 2 describes the changes in the ITE systems in both primary (e.g. University of Education Development Strategy) and secondary (e.g. establishmnet of the graduate school of education and Korea National University of Education) levels. Chapter 3 describes four achievements of ITE in Korea and the measures of these achievements: extension of the teacher training period; appointment of teachers through the open competition examination; criteria for teacher’s license without examination; and evaluation of ITE programmes. Chapter 4 analyses the supply and demand of teachers and the increasing professionalism of teachers. The report includes data tables at the end of the report relating to ITE.


Lee, M. and J. Kim (2016), “The emerging landscape of school-based professional learning communities in South Korean schools”, Asia Pacific Journal of Education, Vol. 36/2, pp. 266-284.

Over the last decade, school-based professional learning communities (PLCs) have emerged as a key feature of Korea’s education system. To understand this new phenomenon in the context of South Korea, the authors review the research on school-based PLCs in South Korea, comparing commonalities and differences between school-based PLCs in South Korea and in Western education contexts. Drawing on data from the OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey 2008 (TALIS), specifically self-reported items that correspond to the definition of PLC – Shared vision, Focus on learning, Reflection, De-privatization of practice, and Collaborative activities – the authors identify the most salient components of PLCs in the context of South Korea, compared to other countries participating in the TALIS 2008. According to the analysis, teachers in Korean secondary schools tended to show significantly higher levels of involvement in Shared Vision, De-Privatization of Practice, and Collaborative Activities such as Joint Teaching or Team Teaching, than their counterparts in other OECD countries and non-OECD countries. However, Korean teachers were less likely than teachers in non-OECD countries to be involved in “Focus on Learning”. The authors call for a more nuanced conceptualisation of PLCs to account for national contexts and further research to better understand the implications of PLC for research, policy and practice.


UNESCO (2016), Preparing and Supporting Teachers in the Asia-Pacific to Meet the Challenges of Twenty-first Century Learning. Regional Synthesis Report, UNESCO, Bankgok.


This report, prepared by the Asia Pacific Education Research Institutes Network (ERI‑Net), is the third and final in a series that examines how teachers in the Asia‑Pacific region are being prepared and supported to meet the challenges of facilitating the learning of transversal competencies, defined by ERI‑Net as six domains: critical and innovative thinking; interpersonal skills, intrapersonal skills, global citizenship, media and information literacy and “others”. Data were drawn from the responses of 2 621 education personnel (mostly teachers) from 457 schools to a questionnaire. The study compiled the findings of ten case studies from nine countries in the Asia‑Pacific region, including Korea, and identified an urgent need for school- and system-level support to create a ‘space’ in which transversal competencies can be deliberately taught, learned and assessed, with teachers as the key. Key findings also revealed that the majority of teachers recognise the inherent value of either implicitly or explicitly teaching transversal competencies to their students; practicum and school-based training was most helpful in enabling teachers to facilitate the learning of transversal competencies – and school leaders were supportive of these efforts, though students and parents were unaware of the benefits of transversal competencies; and insufficient and unallocated school budgets to support teacher training and to purchase learning materials hinders teaching transversal competencies. In Korea, teachers valued the following transversal competencies: communication skills, facilitation skills and maintaining leadership by encouraging enthusiasm interest and effort in the classroom; they felt more equipped to foster communication skills, respect for diversity, empathy and passion/love for teaching.



3. Other reports on Korea

Kim, E. and Y. Han (2002), Country Background Report, Attracting,Developing and Retaining Effective Teachers: Korea, Korean Educational Development Institute, Seoul.

This document is part of a reporting exercise undertaken by Australia in the context of the OECD study “Teachers Matter: Attracting, Developing and Retaining Effective Teachers” conducted between 2002 and 2004. The report describes teacher policy in Korea and the status of teachers; selection into ITE, course content, recruitment and hiring, and salary; and pre- and in‑service teacher training. It presents the problems of continued decline of teachers’ rights and image since the mid-1990s and other accumulated challenges in education that have created a “crisis of public education”, exacerbated by reducing the teacher retirement age. The authors provide further context in terms of the growing influence of the recently-founded Korea Teachers and Workers Union (KTWU) and launch of the Seventh Curriculum in Korea. The authors also include as an appendix a “Comprehensive Plan to Develop the Teaching Profession”, which includes 32 tasks in 10 areas “to be implemented immediately”, which includes making teaching a well-respected profession, relieving teacher workload, strengthening initial teacher education, promoting teacher participation in policy decisions and introducing volunteering activities to build the education community.


Kim, E. et al. (2010), Country Background Report, OECD Review on Improving School Leadership, Korea, Korean Educational Development Institute, Seoul.

This country background report was prepared by the Korean authorities as part of the OECD Review on Improving School Leadership. It is a self-evaluation report composed of seven chapters outlining the economic, political, social, cultural and demographic background of school leadership; the school system and teachers; the governance structure and school leadership; strengthening learning and the principal leadership; attractiveness of the school principal as an occupation; and preparation and professional development of principals. The report also identifies strengths and weaknesses in the system. The authors conclude the while the school principal is considered an attractive profession in Korea, the role, accountability and training of school principals and school management should be strengthened – and tied more closely to career development, school performance standards, and training, employment, certification, and in-service training of teachers.


OECD (2014), Country Note. Results from TALIS 2013: Korea, OECD Publishing, Paris.

This “Country note” was prepared for Korea for the release of results from the 2013 cycle of the OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey. It presents data on the typical teachers, school leadership, professional development of teachers, teacher appraisal and feedback, teaching practices, and teachers’ self-efficacy and job satisfaction. Results indicate that the typical teacher in lower secondary education in Korea is a 42 year old woman, who reports having 16 years of teaching experience and who completed a teacher education or training programme. In addition, 91% of lower secondary teachers report having undertaken professional development in the 12 months prior to the survey but many teachers report high professional development needs in the areas of student career guidance and counselling and teaching students with special needs. Teachers in Korea report spending 77% of their lesson time on actual teaching and learning, and the remainder of their time on administrative tasks and keeping order in the classroom. More than 85% teachers report overall satisfaction with their job. However, only 67% of them believe that teaching is a valued profession in society.


OECD (2014), Lessons from PISA for Korea, OECD Publishing, Paris.

The Strong Performers and Successful Reformers in Education series examines how consistently high-performing education systems or countries are redesigning policies and practices and improving their education outcomes, as measured by the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Korea is continuously exploring ways to improve its education system and has dramatically increased government investment in education over the last decade. But rapid globalisation and modernisation are also posing new and demanding challenges to equip young people of today and tomorrow with skills relevant to the 21st century. To this end, this report examines the Korean education system through the prism of PISA, considers recent policy developments and suggests specific policy options to foster improvements. This chapter highlights ways to improve the education system, firstly by improving the transition from school-to-work and the labour-market outcomes of education, focusing on quality and relevance of education. Secondly, improvement can be seen as a result of strengthening equity and social cohesion through education, in particular by addressing effective policy responses to Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) and supplementary education. The report also provides an in-depth analysis of the experience of other high-performing countries, including Finland, Hong Kong (China), Ontario (Canada), Shanghai (China), and Singapore.


OECD (2016), Education Policy Outlook: Korea, OECD Publishing, Paris.

This policy profile on education in Korea is part of the OECD Education Policy Outlook series, which presents a comparative analysis of education policies and reforms across OECD countries. Each profile reviews the current context and situation of a country’s education system and examines its challenges and policy responses, according to six policy levers that support improvement. The profile first presents Korea’s educational context, with respect to its students, institutions, and governance and funding, key policy issues and policy responses. The report then outlines 1) Policies promoting equity in education, most notably in the early years, in the context of a high-performing education system; 2) Policies to enhance the attractiveness of vocational education to provide an appealing alternative pathway for students and meet labour market needs; 3) Policies to improve the learning environment to empower teachers and school leaders; 4) Progress made towards extending the range of measures used to evaluate the education system and assess students; 5) Recent policies supporting autonomy in schools and universities while maintaining quality; and 6) Policies to address the challenge of lowering the financial burden on households while continuing to improve equity of access. The policy profile also includes a map of the education system, key statistics and indicators, and references for Korea.


OECD (2017), Country Note. Education at a Glance 2017: Korea, OECD Publishing, Paris.

This “Country note” was prepared for Korea for the release of results from the 2017 edition of the annual OECD publication on statistics and indicators, Education at a Glance. It focuses on four major topics: access to early childhood education, sustainable funding for high-quality education, impact of tertiary education on the labour market, and teachers’ working conditions. Key results indicate that among OECD countries, Korea has relatively high shares of new entrants and graduates in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), particularly in the field of engineering, manufacturing and construction. In Korea, teachers with typical qualifications receive lower starting salaries than the OECD average. However, their salaries rise with increasing work experience. Between 2005 and 2014, the share of public expenditure on educational institutions increased by 10 percentage points both in primary, secondary, and post-secondary non-tertiary education and tertiary education. As a result, private expenditure as a share of total expenditure on educational institutions fell rapidly over this period. In Korea, more than 90% of children at every age from 3 to 5 years old are enrolled in early childhood and primary education. Also, the annual expenditure on pre-primary level education per student is USD 7 500, less than the OECD average of USD 8 700, and 83% of the expenditure is from public sources, equal to the OECD average share of 83%.