South Korean President: Replicate Our Ed Success Elsewhere


South Korea joined UN efforts to end poverty by 2030 by donating $200 million to poor countries through the Better Life for Girls program that improves education opportunities for female students worldwide. President Park Geun-hye highlighted the importance of education for her country’s sustainable development during her speech at a UN session and said the same can be accomplished for all of today’s developing countries. Park stressed how education investments in the 1970s led to inclusive growth for the country and resulted in new quality jobs being created.

The country now wants to repeat this success story by placing a focus on education, this time in poor countries across Africa and Asia.

Park aims to support the UN’s efforts to offer quality education to young girls in poor and developing countries. The education focus following the 1950-53 Korean War transformed the then poor South Korea into Asia’s fourth largest economy today. This can be repeated in other countries, President Park Geun-hye says.

Parks’ remarks on providing quality education tie in with one of the 17 goals set by the new sustainable development agenda adopted by the UN member states on October 2.

In the next 15 years, the UN strives to put an end to poverty and protect the planet and the environment.

Park announced that South Korea’s $200 million aid donation through the Better Life for Girls project will come over the next five years. Some of the countries that will receive the financial aid to boost education for girls include Nepal, Laos, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, the Philippines, Ethiopia, Uganda, Ivory Coast and Jordan.

The Better Life for Girls initiative targets gender inequality in education by offering opportunities to girls to realize their potential through learning. The initiative also aims to improve health services for young women in these developing countries to better their prospects.

“Providing health care and education services to future generations, including girls, is the most certain investment that can guarantee a sustainable future,” Park said at the U.N. summit.

For Park, the government’s role is to develop a system that will allow poor countries to enter an upward trajectory of sustainable development. The South Korean president was referring to the Saemaul Movement, a government-led initiative that brought the then-rural economy into a new circle of growth and modernization.

Park said that South Korea is “a vivid testament to all that education can do.”

She added that “the establishment of vocational, polytechnic and high-tech institutes will be supported, so as to reinforce higher-quality education in developing countries.”

The South Korean President also spoke of scholarship programs that will allow talented students from these countries to advance their education by coming to South Korea.