Gov’t starts studying dyslexia, ADHD seriously

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Gov’t starts studying dyslexia, ADHD seriously

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and dyslexia have been in a government blind spot for years, despite being cited by experts as significant factors in students struggling in schools.

Now the government has decided to deal with underachieving students in Korea by tackling the basic causes of their school travails.

The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said on Tuesday that it recently studied 1,045 elementary and middle schools throughout the country to find the root causes of underachievement in schools.

Their study showed that 20 percent of the students classified as underachievers were suffering from emotional and behavioral disorders such as ADHD, dyslexia and depression.

Twelve percent of the struggling students had cognitive problems, such as a lack of comprehension of memory, while 68 percent had external factors that explained their poor performances, including bad family environments.

The Gyeonggi Provincial Office of Education also studied first graders in the province and found that 8.9 percent of all the students were either suffering from or showing preliminary signs of ADHD.

In fact, the Education Ministry was able to decrease the number of underachieving elementary, middle and high school students from an average of 7.2 percent in 2008 to 3.7 percent in 2010 by implementing the national student assessment program.

But over the years, the government realized that many of the underachieving students had treatable problems and decided to focus on getting them treatment.

According to the ministry, it will invest 60 billion won ($51.84 million) over two years starting next year at five education offices in Seoul, Daegu, Daejeon, South Jeolla and North Gyeongsang as a starter program. Students from these five regions can receive tests through their schools and will be treated for ADHD, depression, dyslexia and Internet addiction at 30 clinics in the five regions staffed with professional counselors and doctors.

“Mental health tests will not be compulsory for all students out of respect for them and their parents,” said an official from the Education Ministry.

Moreover, the ministry said it will give more training to teachers to better supervise students who suffer from emotional and behavioral disorders. Training programs for parents will also be expanded.

“The existing government support for these students was focused on first to fourth grades in elementary school and freshmen in high schools but we will expand the range to include all students in elementary, middle and high schools,” said the ministry official.


By Yim Seung-hye [sharon@joongang.co.kr]

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