Rewarding readingFor students in Busan, Ulsan and South Gyongsang Province, reading books will no longer be just a pastime, but a ticket to get into college.
Nineteen regional universities on Monday signed an agreement with the Busan Municipal Education Office to include a student’s track record in reading during admissions screening.
They will look beyond conventional exams and report cards and employ a novel way of searching out innovative and creative minds through students’ reading history.
It is the first time universities and local education offices have collaborated to change the highly competitive and ruthless college admissions screening process.
The idea has been spurred by confidence in the reading abilities of Busan students.
For the last six years, nearly all 600 elementary, secondary and high schools in Busan have been running an online system for teachers to read and comment on book reports by their students.
As result, each student has a history of reading logged on the online system. This can serve as an excellent revelatory resource about the student’s learning habits and mind.
The students’ files are easily accessible online and can be attached as part of their admissions packages.
Universities concluded that they can be of excellent use in assessing academic potential.
At the same time, the use of reading as part of college admissions will help to restore confidence in public education.
Learning has long been neglected as students depend mostly on cram schools and tutorial institutes to get them to college.
Once reading becomes an asset for entering college, it is also likely to bring more vitality to school activities.
Most of all, high school students who are faced with test after test will now have an excuse to sit down and read.
Universities across the country ought to adopt this reading campaign.
If universities take note of the importance of reading, high schools must develop credible reading resources.
Until they develop their own system, schools in other cities can make use of Busan’s reading support online system, which is open to any school.
We hope the reading fever that started in Busan schools will turn into a broader epidemic that can reinvent and change the uncreative and standardized college entrance system.
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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