The school ladder system integrates the vertical structure of schools, the advancement of students by grade, with the horizontal structure of education, which links schools to cooperate on meeting educational needs.
Korea has a single-track , 6-3-3-4 system that maintains a consistent progression through the school levels in order to ensure that every citizen can receive elementary, secondary, and tertiary education without discrimination. The single-track systems require six years in primary school, three years in middle school, three years in high school, and four years in college or university. Higher educational institutions include graduate schools, four –year colleges and universities, and two –or three-year colleges.
Prior to the modern education system, the Education Act, promulgated in 1949, stipulated six years of primary school, four years of middle school, and four years of high school or two years of normal schools were an alternative to general high schools, and they provided training in primary school education. The Act was revised I 950 to provide a uniform three years in high school and three years in normal school. When the Act was revised again just one year later, middle school education was reduced to three years, creating a single-track 6-3-3-4 school ladder system. In 1981, the newly inaugurated Fifth Republic increased schooling at teachers’ colleges from two to four years. In 1982, open universities were established for the first time.
All in all, Korea’s school system has maintained a single-track system under the umbrella of legislation of the Education Act and its amendments. Today, the standardization of curricula in primary and secondary education, the popularization of higher education, and the expansion of pre-school and lifelong education are international trends. Korea is responding to these changes by creating a more flexible, future –oriented school system.