Gov’t to help defectors get used to new life skills

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Gov’t to help defectors get used to new life skills

The Ministry of Education vowed to boost educational support for North Korean defectors in the South, announcing Thursday it would offer more diverse vocational programs and create a guidebook on basic life skills, such as how to use a smartphone.

The pledge was part of the ministry’s annual plan for supporting the newcomers. The number of North Korean defectors in local elementary, middle and high schools jumped from 1,417 in April 2010 to 2,517 in April 2016, government statistics show.

With more than half of them born in China or another country last year, the ministry added it would hire more Chinese-speaking teachers and dispatch them to schools with the highest number of defectors.

On vocational support, the government will add more training programs to its current system. In addition to the six options now offered - barista, cooking, nail art, baking, skin care and heavy machinery - defectors will also be able to learn car maintenance, welding and 3-D printing, among others. Around 2,500 students will have a special “mentor” and receive one-on-one training in whichever field they like.

A “settlement manual” will be produced to guide defectors on how to cope with the problems they may commonly face here. The guidelines will teach them basic manners, South Korean culture, as well as how to use a smartphone and public facilities.

“The policies are based on opinions we heard last December from North Korean defector students attending Hangyeore Middle and High School [in Anseong, Gyeonggi],” said Lee Joon-sik, deputy prime minister who doubles as minister for education.

BY NAM YOON-SEO [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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