Samsung’s Dream Class offers a helping hand up
The event, now in its seventh year, is entirely funded by the electronics giant.
The tech giant partnered with the Ministry of Education to recruit 1,641 underprivileged students from 798 middle schools in small rural towns and islands to attend a three-week sleep-away camp at six universities across the country, including Sungkyunkwan University’s Suwon campus. The selected students included four from Usan Middle School on the remote Ulleung Island in the East Sea and 606 children of firefighters, police officers, military officers and veterans.
During the camp, a cornerstone of Samsung’s charitable outreach program, students will be taught 150 hours of English and math by university student teachers in small classes. A typical class is comprised of 10 students and three teachers. Middle school participants also get to watch art and music performances, receive free accommodation, meals, and textbooks and learn about over 200 different university majors and possible career options at the camp.
The 567 student teachers are from 43 universities across Korea. Competition for the student teacher role is fierce - just one in every nine applicants makes the cut.
The university students are paid over 37,000 won ($33) per hour, according to online blog reviews written by previous participants.
Some 47 of this year’s student teachers are previous graduates of the Dream Class.
“Samsung Dream Class means happiness for me,” said 19-year-old Go Sae-bom, a sophomore studying life sciences at Seoul National University during a press conference in Sungkyunkwan University’s Natural Sciences Campus in Suwon, Gyeonggi, on Friday.
“I attended Samsung Dream Class at Seoul National University when I was in middle school,” said Go. “It was the first time that I left my small hometown in Gurye, South Jeolla, and I met so many high-achieving students. My teachers there were so encouraging and I had such a good experience that I applied to become a Dream Class teacher myself to return the favor.”
Since its launch in 2012, over 73,000 middle school students have been taught by over 20,000 university students through Samsung Dream Class. The conglomerate had spent 130 billion won ($116.6 million) as of 2017 for the six years it had run the project up to that point. It expects to invest another 23 billion won in this year’s Dream Class.
Samsung began the project in an effort to provide a “fair start” to students from low-income families and remote areas of the country that have lower access to high quality education.
“Though the influence of Dream Class has yet to materialize,” said Samsung Card CEO Won Gee-chan, who was also present at the press briefing. “I expect that the participants of the program will make positive changes in the country by applying what they learned and gained in society. I hope that these kinds of [charitable] activities become well known and other companies also engage in them.”
Samsung Dream Class is not only limited to summer camps. Samsung runs weekday and weekend after-school classes during the school term for middle school students living in larger cities. University students go directly to schools to teach English and math for eight hours every week. Some 6,500 students from 186 middle schools are participating in the weekday and weekend classes this year. Three-week winter camps are available as well.
BY KIM EUN-JIN [firstname.lastname@example.org]