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Predicting the future of education

Updated: Oct 9, 2020

Asking South Koreans this question – "which industry do you think will last after fifty years?" gives me the same utterance of "the educational industry" every time. As a Korean student, I still remember going through a cycle of different academic institutions to learn Math, English, Science, Social Science, Chinese, Reading, and surprise, handwriting (?).


The educational industry of South Korea is entering a new era.

I would like to refer to the book The Millennial Economy to explain Korea’s zealous educational environment. The author says:

“I would say ‘love’ of the parents first, but this is not it. Not a long time ago, in Korea, getting into the prestigious universities (a.k.a. SKY) usually linked to the gigantic economic success. To elaborate, it was always the right thing to invest your children’s education, as it was ‘low invest and high return’ for your family."

However, the trend will change in the new era that we face right now, because:

1) It is no more of a ‘low invest, high return.’

The DINK (Double Income, No Kids) tribal is becoming the majority of the upcoming generation. Saramin’s recent research has unveiled that one 33% of the 2030 generation ‘would not like to have a child’ in the future. Surprisingly, this trend will get more intense as the generation goes on. In the age group of 13-19, 53.6% have indicated that ‘children are not essential.’ This could be explained by the massive opportunity cost that people pay when it comes to raising kids. Considering that people, even with the higher education degree, are simply not able to find a job these days, the logical rising generation will not invest in something that is ‘high invest, low return.’

2) This generation wants a person who understands ‘how to learn.’

As previously mentioned, people, even after graduating from prestigious universities, are simply not able to find a job now. This could be partially explained by the prevalent mis-anticipations. Students have heard things about a comfortable life with a management or finance degree. Earning a job at a famous bank was a representation of one’s success, and thus, it was rather instinctive for a student to choose finance of management degree. Yet, as the fourth industrial revolution began, companies are now not looking for people with specialized expertise. This generation is looking for people who comprehends ‘how to learn’ and who understands data, and this is not the trait that can be earned in just a couple of days. The academic institutions for the college students have thus been rapidly rising to train certain skillsets, namely data analysis, as survival tools in this generation. However, to thrive, over survive, people now need to learn how to learn.

Considering the economic factors, I would like to boldly anticipate that the current fanatical atmosphere of education in South Korea will gradually vanish. However, people’s interest in ‘learning how to learn’ to be a flexible person needed in this generation will start to increase.

Be prepared for the change.


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