Embassies to offer cultural programs for local students

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Embassies to offer cultural programs for local students

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Education Minister Hwang Woo-yea, sixth from right, gathers with top envoys on Thursday at the Grand Hyatt Seoul, after eight embassies agreed to cooperate with the local government in developing educational programs for middle school students. [MINISTRY OF EDUCATION]

The Ministry of Education and eight foreign embassies have agreed to cooperate in developing educational programs geared toward Korean middle school students in the country’s free semester system.

The initiative was first proposed by President Park Geun-hye in 2012, and focuses on an activity-oriented semester in which students learn through engagement - participating in group discussions, outdoor activities and team projects - with less emphasis on test scores.

The system is one of Park’s key educational initiatives, through which she pledged to give students one semester free of written tests in an effort to improve their creativity.

Eight countries signed an agreement with the Education Ministry and the Korea Research Institute for Vocational Education & Training on Thursday at the Grand Hyatt Seoul in Yongsan District. The United States, United Kingdom, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico and Rwanda will participate.

The British Council and the British Chamber of Commerce in Korea were also included in the agreement.

The embassies of Romania and Pakistan did not sign the deal but said they would provide similar programs.

“By taking part in multicultural programs from different countries, students will have expanded opportunities to discover their interests and skill sets,” said Hwang Woo-yea, the deputy prime minister for social affairs who also serves as the education minister.

British Ambassador Charles Hay vowed to teach Korean students about the roles at foreign embassies and offer them a chance to seek job opportunities overseas.

The U.S. Embassy plans to take students on a two-hour tour of its offices starting Dec. 9, where students will use resources available to them from the American Center Korea and have a chance to speak with American diplomats.

The British Embassy will also offer programs in its governmental GREAT Britain campaign, which aims to promote the U.K. internationally as a place of study, business and tourism.

Azerbaijan will host students at its embassy as well, while embassy staff will visit local schools to provide cultural lessons.

Romania and Mexico also pledged to operate a two-way educational program similar to Azerbaijan’s program.

Ecuador plans to test-run a cultural program on Nov. 28, to teach students about the country’s food, arts and culture. Rwanda will provide cultural education lessons and introduce a wildlife program.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]
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