North Korean Elite Allotting Money for Private Education

September 2, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. elite /ɪˈlit/ (n.) –people who belong to the highest class in the society
Example: Most of the guests during the mayor’s wedding were from the political elite.

2. allot /əˈlɒt/ (v.) – to devote or spend
Example: The government will allot additional money for the education sector.

3. extracurricular /ˌɛk strə kəˈrɪk yə lər/ (adj.) – beyond the student’s regular school work
Example: The principal encouraged the students to have more extracurricular activities, such as joining sports clubs.

4. supplementary /ˌsʌp ləˈmɛn tə ri / (adj.) – added to what is missing
ExampleSupplementary education, such as off-campus language classes, is becoming a trend for students. 

5. technical /ˈtɛk nɪ kəl / (adj.) – involves special skills or training
Example: Only a few students preferred the more technical courses, such as computer programming.


Read the text below.
Parents among North Korea’s elite are allotting money for their children’s private education, a source from the nation’s capital told Radio Free Asia (RFA).

The source told RFA that the parents’ motivation behind this move is to be able to send their children to the best schools and universities in Pyongyang or abroad. Aside from private tutoring, parents also devote money for their children’s supplementary education and extracurricular activities, spending approximately 150 dollars a month. Some even give bribes to teachers to exempt their children from regular classes and physical labor.

The quality of private tutoring in all areas of North Korea is the same, but costs differ by subject matter. Basic subjects like math are cheaper than technical courses like computer programming.

North Korean security officials have expressed plans to eradicate private tutoring. However, given their recent discovery that most students involved in this practice are children of state executives, this may prove to be difficult.

In 2011, Suki Kim, a Korean-American journalist, went undercover as a teacher at the prestigious Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, an elite all-boys university. Handpicked by the state, the students receive Western education from foreigners. Kim discovered how the students were being confined in the campus and guarded by soldiers. She also said that the students’ knowledge was very limited. In addition, students were led to believe that they had Internet access. However, in reality, the school had internal Internet, where information was screened beforehand. In addition, e-mail, social media, and international news sites were blocked.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         If you were an elite North Korean parent, would you make your child take private tutoring? Why or why not?
·         Do you think it will be helpful for North Korean students to have access to the Internet? Discuss.

Discussion B

·         What are the advantages and disadvantages of attending private schools?
·         What innovations do you think your government should do to improve your country’s education system?

September 2, 2016