South Korea: a school for illiterate grandmothers

school for illiterate grandmothers

The country of South Korea is a facing a population crisis, not because the birthrate in the country is skyrocketing, instead because it is plummeting drastically, to less than one child per woman last year. The birth rate was recorded to be one of the lowest in the world. As a consequence of the dwindling population, a rural school in Gangjin County, South Korea opens its doors for older illiterate grandmothers to fill up for the paucity of children. The total number of students in the school is alarming. Only 22 students constitute the entire school population, including one student each in its fourth- and fifth-grade classes.  Rural areas face the sting the most because the younger population are moving to bigger cities for better jobs.

Daegu Elementary, a local school thought of a noble idea to make up for the decline of school-age children. After a failed attempt at going out and asking children to enroll in schools, the administration took to enrolling older villagers, who were keen on educating themselves. Eight women, aged 56 to 80, stepped forward to join the school and at least four wish to be enrolled next year. In order to make the town conducive for the younger generations to come, the school had to remain to function. The local education office was warmed to the idea of the school administration.

Children and grandmothers learn together inside the school building with dance routine sessions for the aging population. The town of Gangjin majorly consists of a population of senior citizens. Through the business of Pottery making, the citizens earned their daily bread, however, the trade also became extinct, after plastics were replaced by crockery in Korean kitchens in the 1970s. The rapidly aging population of the town makes its living through food products like growing strawberries, mulberries, picking oysters, cockles, and octopuses from tidal flats.