Suggestions for our public educationKorea’s public education is crumbling. More and more students are committing suicide, and teachers are increasingly losing their once-proud authority. Given the gravity of the issue, how can public education solve these problems? First, public schools can take better care of students, and second, teachers need an alternative more effective than corporal punishment.
According to a Korea JoongAng Daily report, suicide was the number one cause of death for people aged 24 and under between 2007 and 2009. The main reasons are academic stress and low likelihood of life conditions improving. As Korea is an extremely education-oriented society, students’ academic stress occupied the top rank among many countries. They spend most of their time in schools - from morning until midnight. They are not even free on weekends, which makes them feel frustrated. They are always in competition with their classmates. Entering university is the only reason why Korean students study. Under these circumstances, no students can find a better future.
Furthermore, public education today violates teacher’s rights alarmingly - and at an unprecedented scale. Teachers’ authority in public schools is hitting rock bottom, and the media frequently report about teachers being harassed or humiliated by their students. According to the Ministry of Education, the cases of “violating a teacher’s rights” increased drastically from 42 in 2006 to 523 last year. If teachers cannot deal with their students properly, schools will become mere gateways to university. Schools should teach important values before students enter society.
In order to make public education function well, public education should not make students study only for the competitive university entrance examination. The system has to be there to help students achieve their dreams. In addition, teachers’ authority should be strengthened. The government should support schools’ extracurricular activities so that students can learn about values and find better ways to pursue their dreams.
by Lee Chang-sub, Student at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies