[Letters] Breakdown of the death triangle

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[Letters] Breakdown of the death triangle

While Africa has a high child mortality rate, mostly due to indigence, the number of unfortunate teenage suicides caused by stress about education are greatly increasing in Korea.

The so-called “death triangle” is behind this massacre. The death triangle is a system, coined by students and parents, which causes stress for students by demanding strong GPAs, high marks on CSAT (College Scholastic Aptitude Test) and good performance on essays or individual college entrance tests.

And a growing number of students attempt suicides when trapped in this prison.

According to an article by a major local press outlet, in a survey of 3,117 students, 31.5 percent of students considered committing suicide because of their studies.

In a bid to lessen the burden on students, early this year the government announced massive educational reform. President Lee Myung-bak promised to reform the educational system by switching to the college administrator system by the end of the year.

Despite the President’s eager goals, it is not possible to predict whether this system will be a boon to students or not. Educational reform measures have been entangled in controversy, mostly since it is Korea’s first time implementing such a system.

There are some universities in the United States that demonstrate a college administrator system works fairly successfully. For example, UC Berkeley not only evaluates whether students took all the required classes in high school but also looks at the motivation, tenacity and responsibility of students in their extracurricular activities. Unlike Korea, UC Berkeley does not have any cutoffs for SAT scores since many professors acknowledge that the SAT cannot be the sole criterion to evaluate the students’ academic abilities.

In fact, most universities in America evaluate students’ personal as well as academic abilities through his or her extracurricular activities, teachers’ recommendation letters and personal essays.

However, Korea must acknowledge that it is not in the same situation as the United States, which has been using this system for many years. Korea is still developing an educational system. This is its first attempt in educational reform since 1995.

Since Korea is new to this system, it will be criticized by experienced college administrators who are not familiar with this system. Because of this unfamiliarity, there is a danger that administrators might misjudge students in their applications. Also, college administrators do not have specific guidelines to select students to guarantee admissions. Interviews were proposed to one renowned university, but it declined to respond to this request.

Other than these reasons for incredulity, we should also be concerned about data manipulation. This makes it difficult for the college administrators to find out whether the data provided by students is authentic.

Many people, especially parents, are afraid of the possibility of burgeoning bribes when this system is implemented. In the past, a prestigious college administrator’s wife was known to have taken an astronomical amount of money from parents who wanted their children to transfer to that college.

These are the things that we should be aware of before we adopt this particular educational system.

However, amid the concerns, many people are glad to hear the news, especially students. Since this new system does not put a high value on scores, there are other areas that administrators can evaluate the students on thoroughly.

The government is reserving a considerable amount of its budget to help colleges successfully switch to this new system.

The system is now being considered for launch starting this year.

Jang Ji-hee, Gyeonggi Academy of Foreign Languages
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