3. Laws, Plans, Policies and Programmes
6. Teachers and Support Personnel
An explicit definition of inclusive education has not been found.
Special educational needs
An explicit definition of special education needs has not been found.
Education in North Korea consists of universal, government-funded schooling. The country’s education system is made up of three kinds of schools: those in the general school system, schools for continuing education and schools for special purposes that aim to educate talented and exceptional children.
In accordance with the 2003 Law on the Protection of Persons with Disabilities, learners with disabilities receive education in special classes within regular schools or in special schools targeted at learners with physical and mental disabilities. Special schools are set up according to the type of disability and needs of the students. Special education is provided in blind schools, deaf schools and colleges for ex-servicepersons disabled on duty, while learners with other disabilities receive education in regular primary and secondary schools with their peers.
Preschool-age children with disabilities attend community kindergartens, such as the Rehabilitation Centre for Children with Disabilities, which provide them appropriate rehabilitation support.
The first education institution for persons with disabilities, the Wonsan Public Blind and Deaf School, was established in 1947 as a five-year primary school providing free education. In 1955 it was divided into the Blind School and the Deaf School. With the introduction of universal compulsory secondary education, deaf schools were set up in every province and blind schools by region in 1959. Blind and deaf students can also access tertiary education, such as skills-training schools affiliated with factories or enterprises, colleges, universities, distance education institutions and on-the-job colleges. In 2009, distance education was introduced to make higher education available and accessible to persons with disabilities. In 2010, a pilot initiative was launched to foster inclusive education through workshops on the use of Korean Sign Language and for educators working in the sector.
A vocational training centre of the Korean Federation for the Protection of Persons with Disabilities (KFPD) provides specialized training in carpentry, manufacturing of light electrical appliances, garment processing, repairing skills, prosthetic dentistry, massaging, food processing and more for school graduates.
Preparatory work is under way to designate one primary school in Pyongyang as a pilot school for integrated education and to operate one deaf class.
The Law on General Education states that local people’s committees are responsible for the registration and enrolment of all school-aged children with no exceptions (Art. 12). Education for all citizens, including persons with disabilities, is reaffirmed in the Education Law, Law on Higher Education and Law on the Upbringing and Nursing of Children. In accordance with the four aforementioned laws, citizens including persons with disabilities receive free education from kindergarten to university.
According to the Juche ideology, the country gives primary importance to the education of citizens. Special attention is paid to the most vulnerable groups, such as children residing in isolated countryside, areas hit by natural disasters, mountainous areas and islets, as well as disadvantaged children in orphanages, ‘physically handicapped children’ and talented pupils.
The DPRK signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2013. Amended in 2013 to be consistent with the convention, the 2003 Law on the Protection of Persons with Disabilities is the main legal instrument to protect the rights and interests of persons with disabilities. The law provides a new definition of disability and establishes a system of supportive mechanisms to learners with disabilities in special schools and classes, such as scholarships, assistive devices and tailored curricula. The Law on the Protection of the Rights of the Child reaffirms children with disabilities’ equal right to receive education (Art. 30) and emphasizes the responsibility of parents and guardians to care for such children (Art. 40).
In the education sector, the Education Law contains provisions on general compulsory education to children with disabilities and on the establishment of material conditions for the education of ex-servicepersons who are affected by disabilities. In particular, the Education Law entrusts local government organizations to provide secondary compulsory education to physically disabled children, including to blind and deaf learners (Chapter 2, Art. 15).
A 2013–15 action plan includes among its targets the improvement of vocational education and training for persons with disabilities, the provision of adequate working conditions for them, doing groundwork for the realization of inclusive education, the acceleration of disability sports, the removal of communication barriers and the enhancement of the capacity of representative associations, such as the Art Association of Persons with Disabilities, the Deaf Association, the Blind Association and the Association of Women with Disabilities and including the activation of the Rehabilitation Centre for Children with Disabilities. These targets were reported to have been achieved.
To improve secondary education for children with disabilities, the 2016 action plan aimed to establish a system of distance education for secondary education for children with disabilities and to introduce new IT equipment.
Sector-specific strategies, including in education, for the implementation of the 2016–20 National Strategy for Economic Development also covered persons with disabilities, with long-term and stage-by-stage targets that were to be attained by the year 2020.
As an example of an implementation measure, in 2012 Humanity & Inclusion (formerly Handicap International) launched a project to improve the living and learning conditions of children with hearing and visual impairment in six special schools in DPR Korea. Besides the renovation of education premises, schools and dormitories and the supply of educational materials and supportive teaching aids, the project includes the organization of training for teachers and staff of the Department for Special Education on teaching methods and on the adaptation of training courses to children's needs.
In line with the 1946 Decree on Gender Equality, the 2010 Law on the Protection of the Rights of Women reaffirms the prohibition of any forms of discrimination and lays down the principle of gender equality (Art. 2). In particular, equality is guaranteed in the field of education and culture (Art. 18) and provided through equal education access at all levels. Women have the right to access tertiary education without restrictions, except for designated courses (Art. 19).
People living in rural or remote areas
Rational geographical distribution of educational institutions is considered according to the specific features of the districts and areas.
To ensure full attendance in compulsory secondary education, dormitories have been established in mountainous areas and boarding for children of physical and office workers has been subsidized. The National Plan of Action on Education for All for the period up to 2015 aimed to increase nurseries and kindergartens in remote areas and far-off islets.
The Law on Education regulates the universal free educational system (Chapter 2). Citizens of the state are obliged to attend secondary general education and benefit from the right to free education (Art. 12).
According to the National Plan of Action on Education for All, talented children need to be identified in a timely matter and provided with adequate early education. As part of the special education policy for the talented, in 1984 North Korea established Pyongyang No. 1 Senior-middle School, where the national curriculum corresponds to the curriculum for high schools in South Korea. By 1985, North Korea had established a No. 1 Senior-middle School for each provincial government and started a full-scale special education program for the gifted. The No. 1 Senior-middle Schools differ from the ordinary schools in terms of teaching materials and the quality of their teachers.
In 2010, with the intent to increase efficiency and improve the quality of education provision, the Ministry of Education was reorganized to incorporate the ministries of Higher Education and General Education and was renamed the Education Commission.
The National Committee for the Protection of Persons with Disabilities is responsible for the implementation of national laws and policies concerning persons with disabilities. The committee is chaired by the vice-Premier of the Cabinet, with deputy chairpersons including the chairman of the Education Commission and the ministers of public health and labour, while members include deputy leaders of the State Planning Commission, the State Emergency Disaster Commission, several related ministries, the General Bureau of Designing and the Central Bureau of Statistics, as well as chairpersons of the associations of the Blind and Deaf. In parallel, provincial, municipal and county committees for the protection of persons with disabilities count leaders of disability-related institutions and representatives of the associations of the Blind, Deaf and Women with Disabilities among their members.
Since 2005, the KFPD has contributed to implementing the State policy on the protection of persons with disabilities in close collaboration with the State.
According to the Law on the Protection of Persons with Disabilities, the construction, designing and urban management of public buildings must conform to the principle of providing convenient living conditions to persons with disabilities (Art. 47). The 2009 Standards for the Designing of Building Spaces for Persons with Disabilities provides standards for designing appropriate buildings for persons with disabilities. The standards were expected to be revised and updated by the Ministry of State Construction Control and the General Bureau of Designing.
To improve the living conditions and education of children with hearing and visual impairment in six special schools in DPR Korea, a project launched in late 2012 by Humanity & Inclusion (formerly Handicap International) targets the renovation of premises (schools and dormitories), the construction of greenhouses to vary children's diets, and the supply of educational materials and teaching aids.
With a view to align their curricula to those of the 12-year compulsory education system, blind and deaf schools developed their curricula in 2015, placing emphasis on general education with an appropriate proportion allotted to skill training.
Within general secondary education, the curriculum of special schools was updated, linking it with the vocational training curriculum. The content of the vocational training curriculum at special schools was also revised, tailored to diverse jobs.
In accordance with the Law on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Women, the Education Commission identified and accordingly revised instances of gendered attitudes and representations in textbooks.
New textbooks for deaf and blind schools were compiled during the period of 2014–18, with the publishing of textbooks for deaf schools integrating IT and the completion of a process for editing and printing Braille publications.
Within the Central Teacher Training Centre of the Academy of Education, the Blind and Deaf Schools Special Education Department was set up to provide teachers with knowledge of teaching methods and skills. The centre organizes workshops and capacity-building trainings, for instance on sign language and on how to create appropriate conditions and learning environments for children with disabilities. As required by the Law on the Protection of Persons with Disabilities, service providers working at facilities frequented by persons with disabilities are regularly provided with training in Braille and sign language so that they can accommodate the needs of persons with disabilities.
The early education class of sign language run by the Economic and Cultural Centre for the Deaf and Blind teaches sign language to children with hearing impairments as well as to any who so wish. It organized four trainings in 2011 for the staff of the central committee and affiliated organizations of the KFPD.
Humanity & Inclusion has also organized training and seminars for teachers and staff from the Department for Special Education.
Information on the monitoring of inclusion in education has not been found.