Missing the pointThe incoming government is planning great changes in Korea’s education system. They have some bold ideas to overhaul the current troublesome education policies by, for example, establishing new specialized high schools, giving universities freedom in admissions, abolishing the Korean SAT English exam and conducting English classes in English. It is good that the new government is planning to change the system. We cannot over-emphasize the importance of education, for it is the key to the nation’s bright future. But can the new education policy actually help create valuable human assets?
Take a look at Korea’s universities. There is no pursuit of learning. All students care about are Toeic scores or other qualifications. They copy reports from the Internet or cheat on tests; many students just don’t have much interest in their majors and only care about getting good grades. University is no longer a place where academic study is done; it has instead become no more than a place to hustle for a diploma and a GPA to get employed. This is not surprising, as Korean high schools’ only goal is getting students into good colleges. The new policy does not seem to plan to change this.
Two problems have caused such a phenomenon. First, students only care about getting into so-called prestigious schools. The other reason is that ethics education in schools has nearly collapsed, left behind in the pursuit of good grades and university admission. The new education policy emphasizes competition and freedom.
What good is that if the two problems are not solved? No matter how much high school education innovates, if university education collapses, it is of no use. What we need is a system that can help students to discover their interests and choose a university not by the criterion of social prestige, but by the criterion of students’ future goals. What we need is to differentiate high schools from hagwon. School is a place where students develop character, not the ability to get higher grades. I believe the new government is missing the point of education.
Education’s first goal is to build character, and to find the innate ability of each student ― not throwing them into the jungle and saying, “Competition is important and there’s no place for losers.”
Kang Yoon-seung, a student at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies