Sciences failing in schoolsKorean 15 years olds are now ranked 11th in the sciences following their recent performance on the Program for International Student Assessment, which was conducted by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
This means this group has dropped from first place in 2000 to fourth place in 2003 and now ranks outside the top 10.
Science is crucial to a nation’s competitiveness, but the ability of our students is on the decline.
This is a vexing issue because the current science curriculum is set to continue and science as a subject doesn’t enjoy a high academic standing among Koreans.
The science community has long predicted this scenario. The curriculum introduced in 2001 emphasized studying of easy subjects; consequently, science education in middle school and high schools has deteriorated.
Classroom time for science has decreased greatly while there are some high school students who aren’t learning any science at all.
In addition, colleges increasingly do not include science in their admission standards when selecting students.
Even colleges specializing in the sciences do not always use science test results from the nation’s college admission test when choosing their students.
Science education has essentially taken a back seat to the college entrance exam. Classes have shifted to the theoretical and students are not getting any better at applying scientific knowledge to solve problems. Dust now gathers over the equipment in middle and high school labs, which are being closed anyway.
That’s why so many students can’t solve simple applied problems. There is no way these students can learn real science. The test has increased the ratio of applied science problems, exposing our students’ lack of knowledge.
Our science and technology community is looked upon with disdain. If science education in this country falls apart, we will not only fail to develop a science and technology base, we will also be faced with a shortage of experts.
If the situation doesn’t improve, the logical conclusion is that we will become a nation that lacks a fundamental understanding of the sciences.
Developed countries such as the United States and Japan are ahead of us, and they’re strengthening their investment in science and math.
The government needs to establish a general plan to revive our science education.