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Distance education rapidly becoming a trend in North Korea

Distance education rapidly becoming a trend in North Korea

Web-based distance learning has grown in popularity in the controversial nation, as its regime has stressed its importance after declaring a shift in its policy focus to the economy in early 2018

The October issue of Pyongyang’s monthly propaganda magazine Kumsugangsan ran a special report on the spread of online learning among North Koreans, alongside a related interview with its deputy chief of the Education Commission, Ri Yong-chol.

Ri stated in the interview that the expectations and interests of North Korean workers for distance education programs run by Kim Il Sung University, Kim Chaek University of Technology and many other institutions are extremely high.

“The number of prospective students for distance learning courses at universities is growing at an explosive rate. Distance learning is a good education format that meets the enthusiasm of learning by a wide range of workers and a shortcut to realizing the high goal of universal science and technology education,” Ri  stated.

A kumsugangsan reporter who interviewed Ri stated that the nationwide online learning networks and the number of universities offering distance education programs have increased significantly under the guidance of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The reporter also stated that almost all North Koreans, including workers, technicians, housewives, soldiers and disabled people are benefiting from it.

The country’s first distance education program was reportedly introduced by Kim Chaek University of Technology with Kim Il Sung University and other major universities following suit.

The Korean Central Broadcasting Station reported early this month that Kim Chaek University of Technology has produced about 500 graduates from its distance education program since 2015.

“North Korean leader Kim appears to have emphasized the importance of distance education after shifting his policy goal to the economy in April. The North appears to invest intensively in science and education to achieve the goal,” stated a professor at South Korea’s Kyungnam University.

He further added that a lot of North Korea watchers also share the view, and are in agreement that the North’s information and communication technology infrastructure required to spread distance education programs has already reached considerable levels.

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