INCHEON, May 18 (Yonhap) — South Korea should share its educational know-how that has catapulted it from poverty to wealth in just decades, the head of an international group rooting for universal access to education said Monday.
“It’s impossible to imagine (South Korea) could have built this economy without a high-quality education system,” Julia Gillard, former Australian prime minister who chairs the board of directors for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), told Yonhap News Agency in an interview.
South Korea was poorer than many sub-Saharan African countries in 1960, but soared to become the world’s 13th-largest economy and Asia’s fourth-largest economy in a matter of decades.
South Korean students have also consistently excelled in the Programme for International Student Assessment, an international test of students’ scholastic performance conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development every three years. In 2015, South Korea ranked third out of 76 nations.
It also became the 22nd donor for the GPE last year and pledged to contribute US$5 million to provide educational help to children in conflict-affected countries.
“We’d like to see even stronger engagement from Korea over time,” the 54-year-old said.
Gillard, who served as Australia’s first female prime minister from 2010 to 2013, arrived in Incheon a day earlier to attend the World Education Forum.
More than 1,500 educational leaders, policymakers and civic activists are set to evaluate the progress they have made toward achieving education-related Millennium Development Goals (MDG) set in 2000.
Forum participants will also work to agree on a joint position on educational goals in the post-2015 agenda, which the U.N. member states will adopt in September.
The forum kicks off on Tuesday and will end Friday.