More than seven out of 10 primary and secondary school students in Seoul participated in private education and other extracurricular activities last year, with a majority of their parents feeling the pinch of high education costs, data showed Thursday.
According to the data compiled by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, 73.5 percent of the city's primary, middle and high school students received supplementary education services in 2012, with their monthly expenditure averaging 425,000 won ($387.87).
Some 82 percent of the elementary school students were involved in private education, with the number falling to 72.7 percent among middle schoolers and to 61.8 percent among high school students, the data showed.
The amount of their expenditures, however, was the largest for high school students at 584,000 won, followed by middle school students spending 468,000 won and elementary school children spending 318,000 won, according to the data.
Some 76.4 percent of the parents in Seoul who have primary and secondary school children responded that they are feeling pressured financially to teach their children, and 67.2 percent of them cited high costs for private institutes and for supplementary lessons given within schools, the data showed.
South Korean parents are known for their enthusiasm about education, with private education spending staying significantly high, though its growth has been slowing in recent years.
Nationwide, parents spent 19 trillion won (US$17.5 billion) last year on private education for their children, which is down
5.4 percent from a year earlier, according to government data.
Private education spending was at its peak in 2009 at 21 trillion won.
Meanwhile, the number of the city's primary and secondary school students totaled 1.16 million as of the end of last year, nearly half the 2.31 million in 1989 when the number reached its peak, according to the data.
Accordingly, the number of students per classroom came to 25.5 at Seoul's elementary schools, 32 at middle schools and 32.8 at high schools, down around 40 percent each from 1992.
The decrease is attributed to the dwindling birthrate in the capital city from 3.05 in 1970 to 1.61 in 1990 and to 1.06 in 2012, it showed.
"The city saw a sea change in educational circumstances over the past decades," said Cho Yong-sam, a city official in charge of releasing information to the public. "Based upon the analysis, the city will come up with measures fit for the changing environment." (Yonhap News)