North Korea Table of Contents
As in other communist countries, politics come first in the education system. In his 1977 "Theses on Socialist Education," Kim Il Sung wrote that "political and ideological education is the most important part of socialist education. Only through a proper political and ideological education is it possible to rear students as revolutionaries, equipped with a revolutionary world outlook and the ideological and moral qualities of a communist. And only on the basis of sound political and ideological education will the people's scientific and technological education and physical culture be successful." Education is a "total experience" encompassing not only formal school education but also extracurricular "social education" and work-study adult education. According to the "Theses on Socialist Education," the socialist state should not only organize and conduct comprehensive educational programs, eliminating the need for private educational institutions, but should also "run education on the principle of educating all members of society continuously--the continued education of all members of society is indispensable for building socialism and communism."
Chuch'e is a central theme in educational policy. According to Kim Il Sung, "in order to establish chuch'e in education, the main emphasis should be laid on things of one's own country in instruction and people should be taught to know their own things well." In his 1983 speech to education ministers of nonaligned countries, Kim also emphasized that chuch'e in education was relevant to all Third World countries. Kim asserted that although "flunkeyism" should be avoided, it might be necessary to adopt some techniques from developed countries.
Closely tied to the central theme of chuch'e in education is the "method of heuristic teaching"--a means of developing the independence and creativity of students and a reaction against the traditional Confucian emphasis on rote memorization. "Heuristics give students an understanding of the content of what they are taught through their own positive thinking, and so greatly help to build up independence and creativeness." Coercion and "cramming" should be avoided in favor of "persuasion and explanation," particularly in ideological education.
Data as of June 1993