Issue Deep Dive

South Korea / Education

Last updated: April 14, 2023

ODA Spending

ODA In Context

South Korea spent 7% of its ODA on education in 2021 making it the 11th-largest DAC donor to education in absolute terms and 13th-largest in relative terms.

South Korea’s relative funding for education has been declining since 2017, mainly due to the prioritization of funding for global health. Still, education is a key focus area for South Korea’s ODA.

ODA Breakdown

Bilateral Spending

In 2021, South Korea channeled 92% of its ODA to education bilaterally, above the DAC average of 72%. This includes 9% of education ODA channeled as earmarked funding through multilateral organizations.

Education remained stable in 2021, but dropped relative to increases in other sectors, making education the fourth-largest sector for South Korea.

Multilateral Spending and Commitments

Multilateral ODA to education accounted for 8% of South Korea’s education ODA, far below the DAC average of 28%. South Korea joined GPE in 2014 and has made subsequent commitments to global education initiatives.

The table below summarizes South Korea’s more recent commitments to multilaterals working on education. Some of these commitments are considered core funding to multilaterals while others will be earmarked funding through multilaterals.

Funding and Policy Outlook

South Korea considers education a key sector through which it can support partner countries in achieving the SDGs.

Education is one of the priorities of South Korea’s 2023 Annual Implementation Plan. KOICA’s Education Mid-term Strategy 2021-2025 prioritizes building educational capacity and access in partner countries

The current strategy outlines three strategic objectives which are linked to the targets of SDG 4: “Ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all:”

  • Quality education and learning achievement;
  • Digital education to develop future capabilities; and
  • Vocational and higher education to foster talents.

South Korea hosted the 2015 World Education Forum in Incheon, South Korea, where stakeholders identified key elements of the Education 2030: Framework for Action, which laid out a vision for global education policy for the next 15 years and the financing required to achieve the Education 2030 agenda.

Gender equality, linked to girls’ education, has been a cross-cutting theme within South Korea’s development policy in the past. While girls’ health and education have historically been featured prominently in South Korea’s development portfolio, President Yoon Suk-yeol has demonstrated no interest in furthering gender equality. Girls’ education programming could suffer as a result.

Key bodies

Related Publications

March 2023 Foundational Literacy and Numeracy Roundup 

ECW High-Level Pledging Conference

Pledges, Priorities, and Shortfalls

December 2022 Foundational Literacy and Numeracy Roundup

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