S. Korea’s elementary to high school student number to drop below 5 mln in 2026

SEOUL, The number of elementary, middle and high school students in South Korea is expected to fall below the current 5-million level in the next two years, data from a state-run institute showed Monday, amid the country's chronically low birthrates. The total number of the students is estimated to decline to 4.83 million in 2026 from 5.13 million this year, according to the data from the Korean Education Development Institute. In 2029, the number of students is expected to further decline to 4.275 million, the data showed, marking a fall of nearly 1 million students in five years. The number of first graders is expected to decrease from 347,950 this year to 244,965 in 2029, according to the data. Last year, the number of first graders stood at 401,752 as of April. South Korea's total fertility rate -- the average number of children a woman bears in her lifetime -- fell to a fresh low of 0.78 in 2022, well below the replacement level of 2.1 needed to maintain the country's population at 51 million. Sou rce: Yonhap News Agency