A South Korea school is enrolling illiterate grandmas to save it from closing

South Korea’s birthrate has been plummeting in recent decades, falling to less than one child per woman last year, one of the lowest in the world. The hardest hit areas are rural counties, where babies have become an increasingly rare sight as young couples migrate en masse to big cities for better paying jobs. For rural schools that were once built for higher populations, this means that teachers increasingly have less and less kids to teach. For example, Daegu Elementary, a seaside school near the most southern point of South Korea, used to have 90 students in each grade. Now, the school has only 22 students in total, including one student each in its fourth- and fifth-grade classes. With the school on the verge of closing its doors for good due to dwindling enrollment, locals came up with an idea to save the school: giving older villagers who wanted to learn how to read and write the chance to enroll. The local education office warmed to the idea, and now a handful of illiterate elderly villagers are attending the school alongside children. It may seem a bit odd that a bunch of grandmothers are learning the basics to reading and writing in a classroom full of second-graders, but it’s actually a beautiful sight to see. Going to school with a backpack full of books is something these elderly villagers never had the opportunity to experience, and you can tell by their smiles that they enjoy it so much more in these later stages of life.

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A South Korea school is enrolling illiterate grandmas to save it from closing

South Korea’s birthrate has been plummeting in recent decades, falling to less than one child per woman last year, one of the lowest in the world. The hardest hit areas are rural counties, where babies have become an increasingly rare sight as young couples migrate en masse to big cities for better paying jobs. For rural schools that were once built for higher populations, this means that teachers increasingly have less and less kids to teach. For example, Daegu Elementary, a seaside school near the most southern point of South Korea, used to have 90 students in each grade. Now, the school has only 22 students in total, including one student each in its fourth- and fifth-grade classes. With the school on the verge of closing its doors for good due to dwindling enrollment, locals came up with an idea to save the school: giving older villagers who wanted to learn how to read and write the chance to enroll. The local education office warmed to the idea, and now a handful of illiterate elderly villagers are attending the school alongside children. It may seem a bit odd that a bunch of grandmothers are learning the basics to reading and writing in a classroom full of second-graders, but it’s actually a beautiful sight to see. Going to school with a backpack full of books is something these elderly villagers never had the opportunity to experience, and you can tell by their smiles that they enjoy it so much more in these later stages of life.

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