Training school teachers in DPR Korea

By Cliff Meyers Regional Education Advisor for UNICEF EAPRO
Mr. Ho Gwang Ho is a man with a vision. As the Director of the Provincial Teacher Training Centre (TTC) in Wonsan, a port town in Kangwon Province of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he is responsible for ensuring regular training for all the teachers in every school and kindergarten across the province. With his team of 15 staff, Mr. Ho is in charge of raising teacher qualifications, improving teaching/learning methods and rolling out audio-visual study materials prepared by the Central TTC and Academy of Educational Science through the 17 County TTCs across the province.

“There is a difference between schools in remote mountainous areas, which have limited resources and the schools here in Wonsan” he says. “I want to create a network system and send out memory sticks and CD-ROMs to all schools – using multi-media resources and computers will help us reduce differences between urban and remote schools.”
This year, DPR Korea is extending its basic education cycle from 11 to 12 years – adding one more year of study to Primary School. In addition to regular in-service training, Mr. Ho is responsible for preparing and delivering training for the extra teachers that will be needed to extend the education cycle.

“Extending one year is not too difficult. The Provincial University of Education has enough graduates this year to cover our needs for new teachers. The big challenge we face is to make sure that the new teachers are qualified and learn the skills they need to turn theory into good teaching practices in the classroom.”


Mr. Ho Gwang Ho in his office
© Cliff Meyers, UNICEF


Mr. Ho describes his vision while we are sitting in his half-finished office in the new TTC. Desks are lined up to make a large table everyone can work around and files are piled high as construction workers rush about – there is a tangible sense of excitement in the air as everyone works to complete this fabulous new training center.

With UNICEF support, renovations are well underway. UNICEF is providing a new roof, replacing the windows and constructing a new training room. This assistance is being matched with contributions from the provincial government including cement, bricks, electrical wiring, wooden beams, furniture and labour.

“Primary and secondary school teachers in DPR Korea receive one month of residential refresher training every three years. This is coordinated by the Provincial TTC through a network of County TTCs. The new centre will provide much needed facilities for teacher training in the province.” explains Vinoba Gautam, Chief of Education, UNICEF DPRK.

“The new Provincial TTC building will house two training halls, offices and dormitories, giving Mr. Ho and his team the space and facilities they need to develop resource materials and train staff from the CTTCs, who will then be better prepared to train teachers of primary and secondary school and kindergarten in their counties.”


Mr. Ho Gwang Ho and Cliff Meyers at the new Provincial TTC
© Cliff Meyers, UNICEF


As the Wonsan TTC is still under construction, all training programs are being held in extra classrooms in a nearby school and resources are limited.

“So far, we have only four computers, but even with these, we are able to prepare support materials for teachers, including videos of child-centred lessons and lectures. We want to do more audio-visual and ICT development to support schools with limited resources. We expect all schools in our province to have electricity by 2014 – then we will be able to use ICT to support the teachers and student learning.”

The authorCliff Meyers is Regional Education Advisor for UNICEF East Asia and the Pacific

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