Teach the kids Korean firstThe surge in immigrants by marriage or work to Korea has also brought many of their children to this country. Children who were born and grew up in another country and brought here after their parent married a Korean or found work here are estimated to number around 12,000, according to the Korea Women’s Development Institute. The number has reached beyond a passable threshold and demand a policy customized for their welfare.
Most of the children live without social care and protection. The laws on multi-racial family support and teenage welfare support do not have any category for migrant minors. The majority of them do not go to local schools because they have not learned enough Korean to catch up with the Korean curriculum or relate to Korean culture and their peers. If they are left unattended, they could end up as social aliens prone to withdrawal and even crime. The government and society must help them to settle into their new home and environment to grow up to be part of the community.
Revising relevant laws and systems to ensure basic education opportunities for them is urgent. Elementary and secondary schooling is essential in shaping a personality and nurturing youth. We should benchmark the British system that provides education to all children, regardless of their legal status and how they arrived in the country, and fine their parents if their children do not attend schools.
Migrant children, first of all, must receive language education. Schools should have translators and Korean language teachers assigned for foreign students. They must become familiar with the Korean language in order to adapt and settle here. In Germany and Sweden, volunteer workers help out in teaching migrant students their languages and English.
This kind of system is necessary in a global society. Each community should also run separate programs to help out immigrants and their families. We need to establish social care and settlement programs and systems to retool our society as a multi-national one.
JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 14, Page 34