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South Korea has seen how a rush into high-priced education can exacerbate inequality and suppress the birthrate, as parents fear the burden of having children. (Source photo by Reuters)
Asia Insight

Private schooling booms in Japan and South Korea fuel inequality

'Premium education' enriches minds but puts governments across Asia to the test

WATARU SUZUKI, Nikkei staff writer | Japan

TOKYO -- For the children of ambitious Japanese parents, competition begins well before the first day of elementary school.

"Please finish before the hand turns four," says the teacher, pointing to a clock. Roughly 20 kids, most of them 4 or 5 years old, sit on the floor in small groups with a big piece of blank paper and a task: drawing an imaginary animal. As they start discussing the size of the ear or which colors to use, the staff behind them jot down notes on clipboards. Are they actively engaging? Do they remember the instructions?

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