How Cram Schools Perpetuate the Cycle of Poverty in South Korea
by Haebin Jung
Abstract – The purpose of this research is to examine how cram schools perpetuate and exacerbate the cycle of poverty in South Korea. By examining a variety of data, including, but not limited to, college admissions statistics at the three most prestigious universities in South Korea (SKY), number and geographical distribution of cram schools, cram school prices, and housing prices, this paper identifies a connection between the market demand for cram schools among the top echelon households of South Korean society, and the admissions rates of their students to the most prestigious universities in the country. Cram schools, being an expensive commodity, lock many low-income students out of their services, consequently excluding them from the numerous benefits that come with a prestigious university education, including employment and the possibility of climbing the social ladder. These benefits are significant in South Korea, being a nation with a deeply ingrained prestige culture, which in the field of education, is demonstrated by means of heavy emphasis placed on the name value of one’s alma mater.
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