Finding root causes of dropouts

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Finding root causes of dropouts

According to the latest data from the Ministry of Education, more than 33,500 students at primary, middle and high schools dropped out last year because of maladjustment, prolonged absences or violence at schools.

These reasons above accounted for nearly half of all dropouts from school last year, which totaled 68,188. Though the dropout rate of 1.01 percent is relatively lower than those of the United States (7.4 percent in 2010), Germany (6.5 percent in 2010) and Japan (1.3 percent in 2011), the phenomenon should sound loud alarm bells on the education front. More worrisome is that 280,000 children have been lost to a blind spot in the statistics - they are not accounted for in the statistics, according to the National Youth Policy Institute.

Since the problems of teenagers who quit school emerged as a social malaise, our society has been paying keen attention to the matter. The education ministry said it would announce a comprehensive plan next month - based on the results of the study - to deal effectively with school dropouts, including an expansion of alternative education and other measures aimed at helping them to stand on their own feet. In fact, because the issue of school dropouts arouses deep concerns, heated discussions on what really makes them leave school was sponsored by the ministry.

In that forum, many factors were cited, including the prevalence of classroom disruptions; ranking schools solely based on the number of graduates who enter top universities in Seoul; a polarization of education stemming from a widening wealth gap; a mercilessly competitive environment; online bullying and intense peer culture; and teacher apathy. The Korean Federation of Teachers Association and other educational groups have hurriedly suggested diverse solutions to tackle the problem.

We welcome the Ministry of Education’s timely survey on the situation and its conscientious efforts to deal with the worsening problem. But what we need first is a precise understanding of the situation facing our students and sympathy for those who see no other choice but to quit school.

We need a thorough review of our educational culture, which systematically singles out weaker students, and a great awakening among our educators. School authorities also must come up with prescriptions that respect differences among students. We hope the education ministry can provide our children with practical solutions to help them survive.
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