The Number of Children Who Drop out of School Increases Due to Hardships

Daily NK
Yang Jung A
11/5/2007

In North Korea where free education is espoused, the number of students dropping out of school due to economic issues has been continuously increasing.

An North Korean aid organization, Good Friends, said in an informational material distributed on the 31st of October, said, “In Wonsan, Kangwon Province, there are a lot of children who do not even get to attend elementary school. They stop out of school due to difficulties in living and follow their parents to the market or sustain an existence from digging medicinal herbs from mountains and fields.”

In the midst of such a reality where the students’ attendance rate is increasingly falling, the source relayed that “At such a rate, voices of complaint among some officials of Kangwon Province that have said that all of Kangwon Province will become illiterate are high.”

”When actually walking around the streets or in the market of Wonsan, one can easily meet children who are selling water. It is easier to meet children in the markets than in schools.”

The source also relayed, “In a high school in Pohang District in Chongjin, North Hamkyung Province, three objects worth 2,000 won per person, among the list of notebook, writing utensils, winter vest, belt, and winter socks, are required under the pretext of classroom decorations.”

”In elementary schools in Hoiryeong, 500g of sunflower seeds per person were collected for Kim Jong Il’s birthday preparation on February 16th of next year. In other regions, elementary schools and middle schools are collecting each kind of products and upper-levels students are required to bring 20kg of scrap iron, 4 strips of rabbit leather and 1kg of white peace seed and the lower-levels 500g of scrap-iron, 500g of peace seed and 200g of castor-bean.”

It added, “Students whose family situations are difficult cannot keep up with school education. The number of students who do not go to school due to the shortage of funding are increasing.”

Further, “teachers prefer children who come from well-to-do families and give up on the children from poor families. Before, teachers would visit the homes of every student and try to persuade the families to allow the children to return to school, but nowadays, no one takes that kind of an initiative.”

The source also revealed that starting last October, street beggars have been increasing in the vicinity of the Chongjin markets.

The source stated, “Around the market area, young beggars daily fighting for the food that the restaurants have thrown away can be seen daily. During the day, they ask for alms near the market or look for things to eat in the garbage dump and in the winter, since the weather is cold and there are no places to sleep, people gather near steel mills, so they end up being completely covered with dust and dirt.”

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