|Technological Independence The Asian experience (UNU, 1994, 372 pages)|
|3. The Republic of Korea|
In the 1960s, the education and training of technology manpower had been led by the government. The light industries of this period required only a supply of enough technicians and some college-graduate engineers to be able to operate and maintain industrial facilities. Manpower policy during the 1960s, therefore, concentrated on training a sufficient number of technicians.
The industrial demand for technicians rapidly increased after the first Five-Year Plan, but school education could satisfy only 30 per cent of this demand. The government, therefore, enacted in 1967 a law on vocational education in order to encourage or force industries either to train the necessary technicians directly or to finance their training at vocational schools. In the same year, the government also enacted a law for job stabilization, in order to reduce frictional unemployment and utilize technical manpower efficiently.
In the 1970s, high-level technologies that were imported required a good base of R&D personnel for their assimilation. Hence, graduate education in science and engineering was actively promoted during the 1970s.
The establishment of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science (KAIS) as a postgraduate school in applied science and engineering was a turning point. KAIS led the nationwide upgrading of graduate education and contributed to the establishment of a mass supply system of high-quality scientists and engineers. To supply sufficient numbers of college-graduate engineers to the heavy and chemical industries, the government began in 1973 to foster specified departments in some universities. Such departments and universities were appointed with consideration to the industrial needs of their regions.
From the mid-1970s, it was widely understood that, for further economic growth, the Republic of Korea would have to compete with developed countries in high-technology industries. The government realized the importance of basic science as well as applied science in this competition. As a result, the Korea Science and Engineering Foundation was established in 1977, in order to support researchers in basic science.
Fostering high-quality scientists and performing basic research became urgent tasks for the new higher technology requirements. Increasing the quantity and quality of graduate education was one effort in this direction. In addition, the government operated overseas study, training, and research programmes in S&T. These programmes consist of degree, training, post-doctoral, and research courses. Since 1982, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology has been offering Master's and Ph.D. courses for researchers in government-sponsored research institutes.
Four science high schools were founded in 1984 and the Korea Institute of Technology was established in 1985 to supply scientists comparable with first-class scientists in advanced countries. The foundation of these schools is also a long-term strategy in the competition with developed countries in high-technology industries, which is essential for future economic growth.
To encourage basic research, the Ministry of Education has since 1979 supported the establishment and financing of basic research institutes in universities. But universities spent less than 15 per cent of total R&D expenditures during the 1980-1983 period, although they had more than 40 per cent of total researchers. This may indicate that basic research has not yet been sufficiently supported. According to a recent survey, the proportion of basic research expenditure to total research and development expenditures since 1982 has been around 17 per cent. To foster basic research, this proportion would have to increase by up to at least 20 per cent and the increase in the basic research budget should be distributed to universities more proportionately.