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Selective schooling and its relationship to private tutoring: the case of South Korea


  • Exley, Sonia


The notion of selecting students based on academic achievement into different schools at certain points in their educational careers is one that has long been contested in education. In this paper I consider the role selective schooling may play in driving families’ demand for private tutoring – a phenomenon currently growing in many regions of the world. The paper explores the ‘extreme case’ of South Korea – a country with some of the highest spending on private tutoring globally and also a long history of selective schooling. Drawing on interviews with experts and key stakeholders in the Korean education system, the paper reports a number of findings. Interviewees for this project were in many respects critical of a 1970s ‘equalisation’ of Korean schooling, though they also viewed moves back towards selection as fuelling ‘shadow education’. Concern about this has driven governments to curb selective schooling for a second time in Korean history.

Suggested Citation

  • Exley, Sonia, 2020. "Selective schooling and its relationship to private tutoring: the case of South Korea," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 102448, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:102448

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Eric A. Hanushek & Ludger Wössmann, 2006. "Does Educational Tracking Affect Performance and Inequality? Differences- in-Differences Evidence Across Countries," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(510), pages 63-76, March.
    2. Sabino Kornrich & Frank Furstenberg, 2013. "Investing in Children: Changes in Parental Spending on Children, 1972–2007," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 50(1), pages 1-23, February.
    3. Hai-Anh Dang & F. Halsey Rogers, 2008. "The Growing Phenomenon of Private Tutoring: Does It Deepen Human Capital, Widen Inequalities, or Waste Resources?," The World Bank Research Observer, World Bank, vol. 23(2), pages 161-200, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lee, Ji Young & Lee, Hyun Ji & Masters, Allyson S. & Fletcher, Katelyn K. & Suh, Daniel D. & Golinkoff, Roberta M. & Hirsh-Pasek, Kathy, 2023. "Bringing playful learning to South Korea: An alternative pedagogical approach to promote children's learning and success," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 97(C).
    2. Kłobuszewska Małgorzata, 2022. "Demand for Additional Foreign Language Activities in Poland," Central European Economic Journal, Sciendo, vol. 9(56), pages 254-268, January.

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    More about this item


    selective schools; tracking; private tutoring; shadow education;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • N0 - Economic History - - General

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