[EDITORIALS]Dump the 'zero period'The "zero period," the mandatory study hall held before a first period class in Korean high schools, is not a new development. Thus, the recent one-day participation by Lee Sang-joo, the deputy prime minister for education and human resources development, in a zero period at a Seoul high school showed how distorted our education system has become.
A national television program recently portrayed a zero period at a high school, showing what students go through every school day. The program contrasted Korean students, many of whom had skipped breakfast to come to school at 7 a.m. for the zero period and then slumped over their desks sleeping, with students in other countries who arrived briskly at schools at 9 a.m. with distinctly well-fed and content expressions on their faces. After the program was televised, the Web site of the Education Ministry was showered with requests from students and parents asking to push back the time students have to come to school.
The Children-Youth Forum, a group of education experts, has demanded the abolishment of the zero period. The experts said the early school hours seriously affected the health of the students and deprived them of sleep.
School hours can be easily regulated by the schools themselves. Even teachers admit that zero periods are not of much use to students. It seems that the only reason schools continue this useless tradition is because school officials are afraid of what parents and other schools might say. Teachers are wary of parents who demand that their children be made to study as many hours as students in other schools. Quantity and not quality, the amount of hours and not of effort, are what our present education system seems to demand from our students. As a result, the scholastic abilities of students who are accepted at the top-ranked universities in the country are found to be lower than acceptable levels. Universities recently had to open extra classes for those who can't follow regular classes without special supervision.
The government, schools and parents should realize what is best for the students: an efficient, quality-seeking education. Get rid of all unnecessary traditions and formalities like zero periods that burden the students.