In Seoul, schools may see later start times in 2015

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In Seoul, schools may see later start times in 2015

Superintendent Cho Hee-yeon announced yesterday that the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education will propel a plan that will allow schools in Seoul to delay the start of classes until 9 a.m. as of next year.

The announcement was made to commemorate Student Day yesterday.

“We will initiate the great debate for all schools in Seoul to seriously consider delaying start times among schools to 9 a.m. as of next year,” Cho said yesterday at a press conference held at the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education.

He emphasized that institutional strategy should be provided to protect students’ autonomy.

The education office will collect opinions until the end of the year based on the results of discussions at each school in Seoul.

Based on those views, it will present a set of guidelines on Jan. 8 that would detail the change. The initiative would start from March, according to schools’ discretion.

The education office’s announcement came after that Gyeonggi Provincial Office of Education implemented a similar plan on Sept. 1, which was intended to give students more time in the morning to have breakfast with their families or get more sleep.

Some determined that the initiative in Gyeonggi was a success in that most schools were accepting of the plan - of the 2,250 elementary, middle and high schools in Gyeonggi, 90.1 percent have delayed their school start times to 9 a.m.

Some early-bird students were also found to have used the time before class to organize morning clubs for various sports, discussions and cooking lessons, among other things.

However, others voiced opposition to the plan at the time and claimed that the initiative had not been adequately explained to parents and would lead to confusion in families where both parents must work early in the morning.

But the initiative to delay school start times has so far spread to other provinces following Gyeonggi and Seoul; Gangwon, North Jeolla and Jeju have also hinted that they may implement similar initiatives.

Cho also disclosed proposals yesterday that would aim to encourage students’ autonomy as well as improve their health.

The superintendent suggested eliminating homework for first and second graders across elementary schools to boost self-directed and creative learning habits.

The education office will push for a plan to first remove homework that involves parental participation - informally known as “mom’s home work” - then gradually eliminate all types.

Cho added that the education office would provide financial support to equip schools with shoe racks so that students wouldn’t have to carry a shoe bag, which is considered inconvenient and unhygienic. About 77 percent of elementary school students carry shoe bags in Seoul.

Cho also suggested relaxing dress code enforcement, encouraging schools to discuss their clothing policies, which “excessively invade students’ individuality.”


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