The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) defines information and communications technology as an engineering technology that guarantees the collection, processing, storage and transmission of information, and education technology as an aggregation of skills, knowledge and experience needed for developing and exploring the resources necessary in the process of teaching and learning.
Article 2 of the Law of the DPRK on Tele-education stipulates “Tele-education is a type of distance education which relies on telecommunication technology and its means without the face-to-face meeting between teachers and students.”
expense of the state. The government has introduced the Universal 12-year Compulsory Education System, thus making sure all citizens receive complete secondary general education before they reach their working age.
The DPRK has established well-organized preschool education system, general secondary and higher education system which specialize in academic work, study-while-working system and social education system.
The DPRK government has set it as the general goal of education to make education the one which can be fully entrusted with our future and put forward educational development goals and concrete tasks to turn the country into an educational power and a talent power by bringing about radical improvement in education.
In order to achieve this, the government is directing great efforts to actively introduce modern technology in education and make sure that they are spontaneously used in all the sectors of education so as to improve the quality of education.
Article 40 of the Law of the DPRK on Education stipulates “Institutions, enterprises and organizations responsible for the production and supply of educational equipment and materials must produce and supply essential educational apparatus and materials, lab equipment and teaching tools in a planned manner.”
Article 24 of the Law of the DPRK on Higher Education stipulates “Central Organ in charge of educational guidance and higher education institutions should establish tele-education system and continuously improve its quality so as to let the workers receive higher education while working” and Article 1 of the Law of the DPRK on Tele-education stipulates “We shall establish well-organized tele-education system and order so as to let all the members of the society receive higher education while working and contribute to the work of making all the people well-versed in science and technology and turning our country into a talent power.”
Policies, plans and strategies: The DPRK National Education Development Strategy (2021-2030) points out that we shall improve the educational conditions and environment and make education modern and information-oriented. It also expounded that the officials of the provincial, city and county educational guidance organs and universities and schools of different levels should be well-versed in modern education technology and give scientific guidance over education, and at the same time we should actively introduce worthwhile and superior educational methods which make use of education technology so as to improve the students’ intellectual and creative ability.
It also points out that all classrooms in universities and others will be turned into information-oriented classrooms by 2025 as education technology is being actively introduced in educational practices and expand tele-education system so as to fully propel the work of making all the people well-versed in science and technology.
At the same time, it also expounded that an exclusive network for education will be set up with all educational resources loaded up so that all educational institutions including schools in rural and remote areas can share and manage teaching staff, teaching practices and teaching administration real time in all the educational institutions of different levels
Digital competency frameworks: The national standard for qualifications and grades for teachers includes information technology criterias.
Changes occurred as a result of COVID-19: The DPRK has defined it as a major national policy, as there was complete regional and unit-wise lockdown due to the pandemic, to continuously carry out the education program for the students, either at home or in dormitories, using digitalized educational resources including video lectures which had been produced in the educational sector by relying on telecommunication means.
2.2.1. Technology infrastructure and digital capacity of schools
Electricity: The DPRK government is taking all possible measures to provide electricity full time to all educational institutions including the schools in rural and remote areas so that they can actively use information and communication means such as computers in their educational practices.
As a part of emergency measures such as for natural disasters, the government has made sure that all educational institutions are equipped with solar panels, wind power generators and other duplex power supply system so that teaching practice is not hindered under any circumstances.
Computers and devices: Article 40 of the Law of the DPRK on Education stipulated that the government would plan, produce and provide the educational equipment and materials necessary for education such as computers, improve social support and increase the number of telecommunication equipment in educational institutions. The National Education Development Strategy(2021-2030) has also set it as one of its goals to increase the number of computers per student and the government is directing its due efforts to achieve this goal.
Internet connectivity: According to the DPRK National Education Development Strategy (2021-2030), the DPRK government has completed the work of connecting all schools in rural and remote areas including the branch schools located far away from its principal schools to the intranet in the 1st half of this year thus laying material and technological foundation allowing the educational technology be fully implemented.
2.2.2. Technology and learning environments
The Tele-education Policy proved instrumental in mitigating the impact of the pandemic on education by utilizing tele-education, radio, and TV. To ensure uninterrupted learning, video lectures tailored for various school levels and subjects, along with digitized teaching resources, were distributed to students. These resources were made accessible through different tele-communication means, including PCs and cellphones, enabling students to continue their studies effectively. A significant aspect of this national policy was the establishment of set teaching hours for different school levels, grades, and subjects, which were then carried out through tele-education on TV. This strategic implementation ensured that education continued seamlessly despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, thereby exemplifying the value of leveraging technology in times of crisis.
The education programme of the primary and secondary educational sector has set the scope and level of telecommunication skills to be possessed by the students, and the students are taught the knowledge and skills such as the use of operating system, document processing software, multimedia and intranet in their Information Technology subject.
Article 4 of the Law of the DPRK on Teachers stipulates “The quality of the teacher is tantamount to the quality of education and the students’ ability, and it determines the speed of the progress of the country. The state will make sure the teachers set ambitions plans for improving qualifications and continuously improve their level of knowledge and teaching ability.”
As modern technology is being widely introduced in education, the government is taking measures to let the teachers have corresponding qualifications and include contents that would improve their technology competency in the teacher training and in-service training curricula.
Teachers of different levels of schools including the universities are regularly rated and are given appropriate qualifications and grades. The national standard for qualifications and grades for teachers also reflects the teachers’ ability to use information technology including the ability to write and use multimedia presentations and simulation programmes.
2.4.1. Data privacy
Article 24 of the Law of the DPRK on Information Security stipulates “Institutions, enterprises and organizations operating transaction systems using tele-communications network must not register data more than necessary when registering identity of individuals and guarantee their registered information on identity does not leak out or is not misused” and Article 28 of the same law “Institutions, enterprises and organizations planning to operate electronic transaction system should establish electronic certificate system which allows the confirmation of the identity of the subscriber and the accuracy of the content of the electronic document and must get approval from the central electronic certificate guidance organ,” thus providing legal guarantee for the protection of privacy of data while applying education technology.
2.4.2. Online abuse and cyberbullying
The DPRK government has included information ethics and its related content such as laws, regulations, manners to be observed while accessing network among students in the education program of the information technology subject and text books in primary and secondary educational level, thus making sure students are not exposed to immoral behaviors in using telecommunication means.
Governance and inspection over the use of education technology is done by the central education guidance organ in a unified manner under the guidance of the cabinet.
Central education guidance organ has a department which is in charge of the technological guidance over the exclusive network for education and tele-education and this department screens, perfects and uploads the educational resources made by different levels of schools and universities and provide technological service related to it.
Provinces, cities and counties have organs that manage and operate regional exclusive network for education and are taking care of the technological issues arising.
In DPRK, all levels of schools and universities have their own computer network and provide necessary education resources necessary for the lessons and extracurricular activities of the students.
If necessary, educational resources are downloaded onto the students’ tablet, PC, cellphone and USB memory stick so that the students can use them in their self-studies.
All educational resources distributed to teachers and children at schools are free of charge.
This profile was reviewed by the focal point for UNESCO in the Education Commission of the DPRK