“This school was established on March 30, 1973 and closed down on March 1, 2017 after producing 3,084 graduates.”
A monument set up on the site of the abolished Gaum Middle School in Uisung, North Gyeongsang Province reveals problems facing Korea such as demographic cliff caused by low fertility rate and aging population and devastation of rural areas, resulting from the concentration of population and resources at metropolitan areas.
“The neighborhood was vibrant when there were students around here. Many people shed tears when the school was shut down last year,” a man in his 60s this reporter met around the school said on Thursday.
The monument at the abolished Gaum Middle School suggests that problems shown in the “Extinction Endangered Regions” recently published by the Korea Employment Information Service are imminent. Four out of 10 cities, counties, and districts across the country face the risk of extinction. The affected areas not only include rural areas but also urban areas such as Jung-gu in Busan, Gimcheon, and Gyeongju.
According to the Education Ministry report submitted to the Education Committee under the National Assembly, about 38 private universities across the country could be shut down by 2021 due to falling enrollment. The closing of one university deals a blow to the local community and the economy as well.
Education experts say that the closing of universities as well as middle and high schools due to a decline in population is like losing the future as students would lose a place to develop their dream.
Jae-Yeong Yoo firstname.lastname@example.org