There was a surprising bit of news here in Gyodong recently: the high school with only 62 students had everyone of the students in 3rd year entering college. The The Joang Daily headlined the article: Remote island school triumphs-Gyodong High students win college places without relying on costly private tuition.
Exams are important in Korea, a history that goes back centuries. Many changes have been made but we still have the remains of the system in the civil servant exams, college entrance exams along with military exams . Each student is required to take the exam for college entrance, and the efforts to prepare for the exams are many and can be expensive, for those living in the country it is difficult to compete with those in the cities.
Parents living in the country or an island such as Gyodong, if finances permit, will send their children to the mainland and the better schools. It is obvious that those who have the benefit of better secondary education do a better job in the college entrance. This means that many students live apart from their parents, this makes the triumphant of Gyodong High School quite an achievement. When the better students decide to leave for studies in another area, the capability of the student body is diminished, efforts of the teachers not appreciated and the students and teachers discouraged.
There were fifteen students that earned admission to four-year universities and the rest to community colleges. Some of the schools were some of the best in the country. It is a credit to the principal who was recently appointed. The citizens of Gyodong asked for him to come to the island since he was just made a principal; being from the island they felt he would take a great interest in the education of the students. That is exactly what happened and the achievement was recognized by the media. Last year there were only 4 that were admitted to university. This means that they have to study for another year to take the exams again, usually attending academies.
In Korea, high school is not mandatory unlike middle school education. 97% of South Korea's young people complete high school which is the the highest percentage of any country. All the classrooms have high speed Internet access, the first to have this capability. It does show the interest that Korea has for education and its efforts in that field
Passing the school recently I saw placards out in front of the gate, directing our attention to the success. It will probably mean there will be fewer parents deciding to send their children to the city in the years to come.