It’s something we’ve known for quite a while, but it’s good to get a reminder once and awhile: now the Washington Post writes about the million dollar business of the hagwons, the expensive tutoring in South Korea. Amanda Ripley wrote about Kim Ki-Hoon last year, a hagworn earning 4 million dollar… a year. The Global Teacher Prize seems suddenly rather small.
But South Korea isn’t alone. Do check this documentary on that other high scoring place, Hong Kong, by Marcel Theroux on the Hong Kong Tiger Tutors.
I think it is something that is an important element to understand when you look at PISA-lists:
Many Korean families split and live on opposite sides of the world in pursuit of a better education: The mother and children live in the United States or some other English-speaking country, the better to secure entry to a prestigious university (preferably Harvard). The “goose father” continues working in South Korea, flying in to visit when he can.
All of this combines to make South Korea’s equivalent of the SAT the most important event in a young person’s life.
As such, the vast majority of teenagers here do a double shift at school: They attend normal classes by day but go to hagwons for after-hours study. Increasingly, online hagwons are replacing traditional brick-and-mortar cram schools. The hagwons have become a $20 billion industry. (source Washington Post)
And if we look at research, this private tutoring system could be – besides highly unequal – also the kind of doping that gets you at the top of the rankings.