The DPRK Cabinet convened for an enlarged plenary meeting over the weekend, state media reported on Sunday, with officials present committing to implementing ruling party plans for a “radical turn” in the country’s education system.
The meeting — the third of its kind this year — saw the North Korean cabinet discuss plans for the implementation of orders handed down by leader Kim Jong Un in a major work published in September.
That work, which bemoaned the quality of the DPRK’s education system and called for urgent steps to rectify these defects, blamed teachers and officials for failing to keep up with the world’s development trends.
He also ordered a number of ways to rectify these issues, including encouraging greater interest in “education science,” a “reeducation” program for current teachers, and the appointing of more students who have studied abroad as professors.
Speaking at the Cabinet meeting this weekend, vice premier Jon Kwang Ho reiterated Kim’s criticism of officials, saying they had failed “to develop the education of the country with far-sighted eye and strategy” and were “indifferent to providing working and living conditions of teachers.”
“He called on all the officials to brace themselves to put the level of the country’s education on the most developed level as soon as possible, true to the Party’s policy on bringing about a radical turn in education,” the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported in an English-language dispatch.
Officials from the Cabinet, including Premier Kim Jae Ryong, were then reported to have delivered a number of speeches on the proposed measures, as well as the broader implementation of orders handed down by Kim Jong Un in his New Year’s Speech and at the fourth plenary meeting of the Seventh Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) in April.
“[They] stressed the need for all the officials to regard the educational work as the most important state affair,” KCNA reported. “…bearing in mind that the building of an educational power and a talent power is just the building of an economic power and a powerful socialist country.”
“The reporter and speakers made an analysis and review of the successes, mistakes and lessons in the third quarterly work to thoroughly implement the militant tasks set forth by Kim Jong Un,” it added.
Education has received notable attention during Kim Jong Un’s almost seven years in power, with the state implementing a new 12-year compulsory system — one of the highest in the world — in 2017 and opening hundreds of new vocational schools and university departments.
“The latest cabinet meeting, the third this year alone, is notable for its focus on education policy,” Minyoung Lee, a senior analyst with NK News‘s sister site NK Pro, said. “Economic issues typically top the agenda in North Korean cabinet meetings.”
“This is consistent with Kim Jong Un’s emphasis on education, as seen by the North’s implementation of the universal 12-year mandatory education system, and state media’s renewed focus on education in recent months,” she added.
North Korea’s Cabinet is one of the highest administrative bodies in the DPRK, responsible for implementing ruling party policy and the day-to-day management of the country’s centrally-planned economy.
A largely technocratic organ ultimately subservient to the WPK and the leadership, it does hold some independent decision-making power in areas including infrastructure, food supply, and transportation.
Edited by James Fretwell