SOUTH KOREA; A SUCCESS STORY; NIGERIA TOO CAN BE GREAT
Most of us know of South Korea, officially called the Republic of Korea.
Many images may come to mind when Korea is mentioned: a beautiful country with a strong economy and well-protected environment.
South Korea is a small country with grit.
The shrimp sized peninsula is a national success story that transformed itself from impoverished conditions to industrial riches in a remarkable 68-year postwar period.
It was only a few years ago that South Korea, wracked by poverty, political chaos and popular discontent, was widely regarded as a sinkhole of American aid.
Now this small, ruggedly anti-communist country enjoys relative political stability and is making impressive economic progress.
It has become one of the success stories of the United States assistance program.
How did this startling reversal come about? The country experienced the fastest growth in per-capita GDP since the 1960.
According to the World Bank, South Korea's GDP per capita in 1960 was $155 and has risen to $22,424 today, which is greater than the national wealth of their Chinese neighbors.
The Republic of Korea became famous across the world and made a very big name for itself in the last few decades founded very big place for its name in few last decades despite a number of limitations.
The country is small, less than 100,000 square kilometers, though with a sizable population of 50 million.
The country also lacks all of the natural resources present in many other countries; she has no oil, gas, or iron hidden beneath the surface.
On the other hand, this small country has invaded the world with her products, which can be found everywhere we go.
Some people cannot fathom how a small country like South Korea managed to achieve this.
To explain this, we must first know the factors that drove Korea to undergo its economic developments.
From this, we might derive some lessons that would help us rebuild our country (Nigeria).
First we must understand the history of this great country, so I will present the historical image.
I will not discuss Korea's history before the year 1910, but simply mention some important events of the last century which guide us to believe in the phrase: 'nothing is impossible before human desire and ambition.
' Korea was annexed by the empire of Japan in 1910, and achieved its independence in 1945.
At the end of World War II, Korea was divided into Soviet and U.
zones of occupation in the north and south, respectively.
The Republic of Korea was created by an election held in the U.
zone in 1948.
The de-colonization and political division of the once united nation meant a sudden disruption of trade both with Japan and within Korea, causing serious economic turmoil.
The situation was very difficult, as the country was one of the poorest in the world with a GDP per capita of approximately $72.
The Korean War began around 1950, when forces from the North invaded the South.
Over the course of the three-year war, 1.
5 million people were killed and a quarter of Korea's capital stock destroyed.
After the war, the South Korean people worked hard as a single nation to rebuild the country.
At the end of World War II was divided into Soviet (North) and U.
(South) zones of occupation.
Republic of Korea has created by an election held in the U.
zone in 1948.
The de-colonization and political division meant sudden disruption of trade both with Japan and within Korea, causing serious economic turmoil, and this only further deteriorated the country's financial situation.
With GDP per capita around $72 USD, Korea was one of the poorest countries in the world.
The Korean War began in 1950 when forces from the North invaded the South.
By the end of the conflict three years later, one and half million people had been killed and about a quarter of Korean capital stock destroyed.
After the war, the South Korean people worked as one hand, moral and loyalty high, in a nation-wide effort to rebuild the country.
Policymakers set to work stimulating economic growth by promoting indigenous industrial firms.
The government selected firms in targeted industries and gave them privileges to buy foreign currencies and to borrow funds from banks at preferential rates.
The government also erected tariff barriers and imposed a prohibition on manufacturing imports, hoping that the protection would help domestic firms improve productivity through learning-by-doing and importing advanced technologies.
Few among indigenous companies are Samusng, LG and Hyundai automobile, the biggest plant in the world in Ulsan with an annual capacity of 1.
5 million units, made up of five independent manufacturing facilities on a 5,050,000 m2 site where over 34,000 employees produce an average of 6,000 vehicles per day.
In addition, it has a dedicated pier where three 50,000 ton ships can dock at once.
With some 590,000 planted trees and state-of-the-art environmental protection facilities, it is also widely known to locals as the "forest factory.
"With also NNPC, mobile and Total Plc as one of major clients in the world Government gave various types benefits, such as low-interest loans, to start exporting.
Firms were evaluated based on export performance, placed under the discipline of export markets and granted wider contact with the developed world.
The result of these policies was efficiency growth significantly faster in Korea's export industries than in the rest of the economy.
Per capita output doubled, and South Korea became an industrialized country: from 1962 to 1975 the share of manufacturing in GDP rose from 9% to 27%.
Presently, South Korea is a developed country with a very high standard of living.
Its GDP per capita is $33,580.
It is Asia's fourth largest economy and the world's 15th (nominal) or 12th (purchasing power parity) largest economy.
The economy is export-driven, with production focusing on ships, machinery, automobiles, electronics, petrochemicals and robotics.
South Korea is a member of the United Nations, WTO, OECD, and a founding member of APEC and the East Asia Summit.
It should also be mentioned that Korea's national development is also aided by its strict gun control laws.
Korea ranks among the leading countries in lowest quantity of firearms per capital.
What Is South Korea Doing Right? Education perspective Culturally, South Koreans are very invested in education.
They have a lot riding on it.
Everything from their social status to their marriage prospects to their job is determined by where they went to college.
And parents are judged based on what universities their kids get into too.
So it goes without saying that parents and students are highly motivated when it comes to school.
South Korean parents spend more on education (15% of their gross national product) than any other nation.
Some parents drop close to 25% of their income on education, tutoring and supplemental educational materials.
And most parents send their kids to extra private school after their regular school day.
'South Korean students go to school from nine a.
to five p.
and then they go to Hagwons (private schools for extra class) from five p.
until ten at night,' said Stacey Bremner, a South African teacher who taught in South Korea.
'They only really start their school homework once they get back from private schooling or extra lessons.
' And to think kids in the US complain about how much schoolwork they have! Teachers in South Korea are another major factor in the students' success.
South Korean teachers go above and beyond.
'Korean teachers don't just do what is expected of them,' said Ms.
'They are extremely dedicated to their jobs.
They work very hard and make a huge effort.
' And society rewards them for it.
Teachers in South Korea enjoy high social status, are paid very well and have great job security.
No wonder teaching is the top career choice for young Korean's these days.
But it's not an easy gig to get.
Only 5% of hopefuls are accepted into the elementary school teacher-training program.
And once they get a teaching job, not many people give it up.
Only 1% leaves the field every year.
The Korean Ministry of Education works hard to make sure all of their country's schools are tops as well.
In 2008, they made several changes in an attempt to close the gap between kids in high-achieving urban schools and lower-achieving rural schools.
They offered financial support to all middle school students, subsidized computers, offered meals and opened more schools in rural areas to make them more accessible.
South Korea is very savvy when it comes to leveraging technology to improve their schools.
They topped PISA's digital literacy test in 2009, proving that when it comes to computers, their kids are on the ball.
Every school in South Korea has high-speed internet.
They also have digital textbooks to make learning materials more accessible, especially to lower income students.
By 2015, they plan to go 100% digital and have all textbooks in all of their schools accessible from a computer, tablet or phone.
The Ministry of Education has also recently created a Cyber Home Learning System, an online program designed to help kids with their after-school learning.
I hail from Ekiti State, Nigeria.
Nigeria is a country in West Africa having boundaries with Niger and Chad Republic in the north, Cameroon on the eastern part, Benin Republic on the western border and the Atlantic ocean at the southern end.
Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa with more than 160 million people living there.
What this means is that one in every 7 Africans is a Nigerian.
Geographically, Nigerian terrain changes from the high savanna-covered plateaus in the north to the oil-rich Niger Delta in the southern part down to the rain forest belt region towards the coast.
Nigeria is the 12th largest producer of crude oil in the world (averaging 2,525,000 barrels per day) and the 8th largest exporter.
Nigeria has the 10th largest proven reserves of petroleum worldwide.
Petroleum plays an important role in the country's economy and contributes to more than 85% of the total government's revenue.
However poverty in Nigeria remains significant despite high economic growth it first started sometime during the British empire.
Nigeria has one of the world's highest economic growth rates (averaging 7.
4% over the last decade), a well-developed economy, and plenty of natural resources such as oil.
However, it retains a high level of poverty, with 63% living on below $1 daily, implying a decline in equity.
I have written here on South Korea's economic success to give an impression of their developmental stages and the power of believing that nothing is impossible with the power of human persistence.
Despite numerous obstacles, Korea became one of the world's most developed countries.
Nigerians facing its own share of obstacles, annual shutdown of Universities and incessant industrial actions across all boards, despite all these ugly scenarios the Nigerian people and policymakers can also create a success story from Nigeria.
We can become a developed country, a beautiful country rich with resources both human and natural.
We much work together, the government and the nation, on the single goal of building a new Nigeria devoid of ethnicity and conflict but rather saddled with commitment to public service and in turn even with our enormous minerals and resources we can then be wealthy and developed.
In conclusion, I remind everyone generations yet unborn will one day ask us what we did for them.
I hope that my message is heard loud and clear: let's start building A NEW NIGERIA.
Written By Igbalajobi Olumuyiwa Ayokunle, Jr [email protected]