Education and schools in Busan are highly regarded. Public schools in the city are known for having a strict approach to teaching and pressuring students to excel, which makes them a less attractive prospect for expat parents.
Public schools in Busan
The language of instruction in public schools in South Korea is exclusively Korean, and for these reasons, most expats send their children to international schools in Busan.
International schools in Busan have an excellent reputation, but there are heavy school fees that come with this reputation. In most cases, school fees don't cover extra expenses such as uniforms or school excursions. Expats should therefore try to negotiate a schooling stipend as part of their employment contract.
See Education and Schools in South Korea for more on the national education system.
International schools in Busan
Expats moving to Busan with children will find that international school fees are their most significant expense. Though Busan doesn't have such a variety of schools as Seoul, the schools all have high standards of education. Most of these schools cater to English-speaking families and follow American or International Baccalaureate curricula. Some of these schools do offer ESL classes to students who aren't native English speakers. Busan also has schools following Japanese curricula.
Generally, classes are small, giving students a better opportunity to learn. That said, expat parents should be aware that the South Korean culture of pressuring students to achieve academically does spill over into international schools to some extent. Because of this, expat children might feel more pressure to excel academically than they did in their home countries.
Expats sending their children to international schools in Busan should research possible schools long before they move. Parents should contact schools as early as possible, as schools could have long waiting lists. Expat children might have to be interviewed before they are accepted into an international school.
Read more about International Schools in Busan.
Special-needs education in Busan
By law, children in South Korea cannot be refused admission or discriminated against by any school because of disabilities. Education is also free for children with physical and intellectual disabilities from the ages of five to 18 in South Korea. While there are special needs schools throughout the country, and Busan is no exception, many children with disabilities attend mainstream schools. Students who spend a lot of time in the hospital can also study online while receiving medical treatment.
For a child to attend a school for special needs, they must first be registered as a child with a disability at their local district office. Parents can then apply to a school of their choice. Not all international schools cater for children with special educational needs, so expat parents should check with the relevant school.
Tutors in Busan
Tutors can be helpful for expat children transitioning into a new school environment. They can be hired for anything from general assistance with school subjects to help maintain a child's mother tongue or assist them with learning Korean. Differences in education systems may result in expat children being behind in some areas of their new curriculum, and tutors are an excellent way to catch up.
South Korea's tutoring industry is huge, so expats can research different options before selecting a tutor. Tutoring can be done one-on-one, through online classes and videos, or by attending a hagwon (private after-school academy). Many schools will have a list of tutors or hagwons they can recommend.
►For an overview of the education system, read Education and Schools in South Korea
"As a teacher, I think the schools are very good, especially within the more affluent areas of town. I know that my school, like other private schools, does accept foreign students. There is also a foreign elementary school in the city." Learn more about living in Busan in our interview with American expat Jenna.
Are you an expat living in Busan?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Busan. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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