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North Korea raises schooling period to 12 years from 11

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

PYONGYANG, North Korea -- North Korea's parliament passed a law Tuesday adding one more year to compulsory education in the socialist nation in the first policy change under leader Kim Jong Un made public by state media.

Deputies to the Supreme People's Assembly convened in the capital, Pyongyang, for the second time in six months -- a notable departure from the once-a-year pattern of sessions under late leader Kim Jong Il.

The session is being watched closely for signs of policy changes under new young leader Kim Jong Un, who took over as leader after his father's December death.

Parliament voted to extend state-sponsored schooling to 12 years from the previous 11, according to the official Korean Central News Agency. Kim was among those attending the session, KCNA said.

North Korea's constitution guarantees free education for its schoolchildren. However, the dispatch did not say how much adding another year to schooling would cost the government.

The Supreme People's Assembly has 687 elected deputies from across the country who meet to discuss and pass laws and policies, as well as elect or recall figures serving in leadership posts of top state organizations, according to Kim Song Chun, an official from the parliament's Presidium.

At the last session in April, Kim Jong Un was made first chairman of the powerful National Defense Commission, the body's top post.

The Presidium did not release an agenda for Tuesday's meeting, and foreign reporters were denied access to the session.


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