Do Students in North Korea Take National Academic Aptitude Test?

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It is November 12th today and a day when every high school students go for the national academic aptitude test in South Korea.

Though various kinds of ways for the entrance of University such as nonscheduled admission or fixed time admission have been introduced in South Korea, still it is 'studying' that is of greatest importance above all for the goal.

Then what about the situation for North Korean students?

In North Korea where its students enter Primary school at age 7 in which they take 5 years of study and then for 3 years each for elementary and high level study, it must be the first grade of the high school that a student need start preparing for the exam if we convert the case into South Korea's way.

According to North Korea's law on higher education, it is stipulated to select those who have passed the exam with intelligence, ethic, and strength.

Also, in case of the students with outstanding ability, they are allowed to take in all ages higher education in advance.

Summing up the report 'the educational administration and University system in North Korea' by professor Kim Hyung-Chan and the almanac of North Korea, we can organize the college admission process as follows.

First of all, basically every graduate members from high school take kind of similar tests to that of South Korea's university entrance exam from October to November.

These preliminary tests whose subjects vary from 'the history of revolution', 'mathematics', 'physics', 'chemistry', 'Foreign language(English)', to 'Language(literature)' by which some university professors who are selected by the National Ministry of Education drawn up.

And each subjects has 3 questions(3 to 5 questions for Mathematics) in total that require essays format.

These preliminary tests start every morning and proceed about 45 minutes each, for 2 days.

The test rate shots about 70 to 80% and the successful candidates must take the test from the university in person for which they have applied.

The candidates are allowed to apply for up to 3 universities, through the process which not only the university recruitment department from their local council of people consider comprehensively with his/her grade and the entrance quota for choosing for the application but also with which their high school prepare them physical check-up chart, academic achievement chart and their reference.

University exams are composed of examination of academic subject, physical test, and the oral test and begin generally from February.

The oral test are scored from 'good' and 'fair' through 'poor' and one must pass the standard level from the competitive games such as a high bar or a race.

And the reason for the physical test seems basically based on the nation's fundamental goal of the educational system that is to foster the outstanding individuals not only with intelligence, ethic but also the physical ability.

And after the success in the whole tests, one can register certain faculty he/she desired but with its own grades standard being, it is not easy for him/her to register every faculties.

Unlike South Korea, there is no 'repetition' of a year for another test in North Korea, rather it is common that the person would be assigned to the forces or workplace when fails.

However, since it is possible to enter Universities however failed, there still are opportunities given for them to study at Universities.

In this social context, there are various words for the kinds.

'Jiktongseng(the direct enrollment)' for those who enter Universities after graduation straight forth, 'the enrollment of the discharged soldiers' for those who are recommended to enter Universities, 'students with working experiences' for those who enter Universities after working, which reflects the diverse ways to study at Universities if necessary.

Compared to that of South Korea's, the system is distinct in a way that requires oral test, Physical test additionally needed for the entrance and that no other year for the 'repetition' of the test is socially necessary and the entrance of Universities in the middle of the military service or working are possible are also special.

Then what kind of Universities are in North Korea?

According to the 'Higher Education Law' enacted by Supreme People's Assembly in 2011, the prime purpose for education is clearly stipulated as follows:

It is our prime goal to foster talented scientists with highest scientific knowledges, technicians, and professionals not only proficient in their own fields but also in political idea.

And for the sake of the achievement of the goal, North Korea has classified the University system between the higher education system to achieve the profound knowledges and one to learn and to work side by side.

In the former system, there are special colleges with 2 to 3 years and the universities with 3 to 6 years of study period which are a level lower than the university education, and in the latter one there are academies specialized for working in the factories and studying at Universities while working in factories, farming or fishery.

Those educational faculties for working certainly belong to the higher educational system and are administrated affiliated to the institutions, corporation or any organization needing those professionals.

All those working, farming, and fishery universities included, there are 280 universities all around the nation and 600 specialized colleges in total.

As to the Universities' kind, there are Collegiate Universities, colleges and the university colleges.

Kim Il-Sung University, Kim Chaek University of Technology, Korea Sungkyunkwan Universities are the 3 typical examples for Collegiate Universities, the numbers of the colleges are around 160 and that of the educational faculties for adults such as for working, farming and fisheries are around 120, among which ranks best is Kim Il-Sung university that has similar social status as Seoul National University in South Korea.

고려성균관대학. ⓒ민족21

Korea Sungkyunkwan University ⓒ21 Nation

Kim Il-Sung University has preset ratio for the entrees, which divided into each social classes such as labor class, farmer class and those children of national brethren in Japan, and even for the so-called 'reactionaries' from complicated home environments.

Moreover, the term of the faculty of social science and natural science are respectively arranged for 5 and 6 years, which is comparatively longer than the other universities.

김일성종합대학 정문. ⓒ통일부

The main gate of Kim Il-sung University ⓒThe Ministry for Unification in South Korea

In North Korea, University education is not compulsory but is open for everyone as it is free.

And every cost from entrance throughout classes, practice, field trip and exploration must be shouldered by the Government by 'Higher Education law'.

The distinction of University System in North Korea features larger numbers in colleges than collegiate Universities and the dynamic of the educational institutions for adults like University while working.

North Korea, the country manifesting 'the whole nation to be intelligentsia', is differentiated from other socialism countries in that it operates diverse educational institutions for adults.

For example, the present leader Kim Jung-Eun has visited a long-distance class room at the 'Pyeong Yang Factory for Basic Foods' and once emphasized the importance of the education of long-distance class for the 'intelligentsia nation' in 2013.

Original Article: Mun Gyeong-Hwan  ⓒNKToday
Translation: guest reporter Jang Jae-Hee



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