In the early 1990s, the compulsory primary and secondary education system was divided into one year of kindergarten, four years of primary school (people's school) for ages six to nine, and six years of senior middle school (secondary school) for ages ten to fifteen) (see fig. 5). There are two years of kindergarten, for children aged four to six; only the second year (upper level kindergarten) is compulsory.
In the mid-1980s, there were 9,530 primary and secondary schools. After graduating from people's school, students enter either a regular secondary school or a special secondary school that concentrates on music, art, or foreign languages. These schools teach both their specialties and general subjects. The Mangyngdae Revolutionary Institute is an important special school.
In the early 1990s, graduation from the compulsory education system occurred at age sixteen. Eberstadt and Banister report that according to North Korean statistics released in the late 1980s, primary schools enrolled 1.49 million children in 1987; senior middle schools enrolled 2.66 million that same year. A comparison with the total number of children and youths in these age brackets shows that 96 percent of the age cohort is enrolled in the primary and secondary educational system.
School curricula in the early 1990s are balanced between academic and political subject matter. According to South Korean scholar Park Youngsoon, subjects such as Korean language, mathematics, physical education, drawing, and music constitute the bulk of instruction in people's schools; more than 8 percent of instruction is devoted to the "Great Kim Il Sung" and "Communist Mora1ity." In senior middle schools, politically oriented subjects, including the "Great Kim Il Sung" and "Communist Morality" as well as "Communist Party Policy," comprise only 5.8 percent of instruction. However, such statistics understate the political nature of primary and secondary education. Textbooks in the Korean language, for example, include titles such as We Pray for "Our Master," Following Mrs. Kim, Our Father, Love of Our Father, and Kim Jong Il Looking at Photos. Kindergarten children receive instruction in "Marshal Kim's Childhood" and "Communist Morality." Park noted that when students read Kim Il Sung's writings in the classroom, they are expected to do so "loudly, and slowly and with a feeling of respect." They also are taught a special way of speaking toward Kim, in terms of pronunciation, speed, and a special deference system and attitude."
Data as of June 1993
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