The Asia-Pacific Education Researcher

, Volume 28, Issue 6, pp 483–493 | Cite as

Advancing Student-Centric Education in Korea: Issues and Challenges

  • JeongA Yang
  • Charlene TanEmail author
Regular Article


This article focuses on a major reform goal to advance a student-centric education in South Korea and the associated issues and challenges. This research study draws upon Wittgenstein’s concept of world-picture that brings to the fore the cultural influences on policy enactment. Interview data with teachers and students in Korea revealed two main findings: the curriculum and teaching methods in Korean schools combine teacher-centredness and student-centredness; and the policy initiative to promote learner-centred education is moderated by socio-cultural beliefs and practices. The significant manifestations of world-pictures in Korea are Confucian norms: the priority of studying, the pursuit of credentialism, the children’s motivation to study hard because of filial piety and parental investment in private tutoring for their children. On the one hand, the policy initaitive to push for learner-centred education reflects the openness of the Korean policymakers, teachers and students towards progressive education. On the other hand, the endeavours of the policymakers to move away from an exam-oriented system are vitiated by local cultural world-pictures. The experience of Korea illustrates the usefulness of the notion of world-picture to illuminate the evolving and complex realities of policy enactment and outcomes.


Confucianism Culture Hagwon South Korea Student-centred education World-picture 



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© De La Salle University 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of EducationSungkyunkwan UniversityJongno-gu, SeoulKorea
  2. 2.Policy and Leadership Studies, National Institute of EducationNanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore

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