Thursday, 26 June 2008

How important is Education to Koreans, Roboseyo? (my emphasis added)

This important. From the front page of the International Herald Tribune.

An article about a Korean "Cram School" - a school entirely focused on preparing for the University Entrance Exams.

Here, the students are denied everyday teenage items in South Korea. No cellphones, no fashion magazines, no TV, no Internet, no game machines.

Dating, going to concerts, wearing earrings, getting manicures, or simply acting their age - all these are suspended because they are deemed distracting for an overriding goal. Instead, the students cram from 6:30 a.m. to past midnight, seven days a week, in a campus kilometers away from the nearest public transportation, to clear one hurdle that can determine their future - the national college entrance exam.

South Koreans compare their obsessive desire to get their children enrolled in top-notch universities to "a war."

...School background looms large in the life of a South Korean. What university people attend in their 20s can determine their position and salary in their 50s. Top-tier schools like Seoul National, Yonsei and Korea Universities hardly register in the global lists of top schools, but at home, their diplomas pass as a status symbol, a badge of pride both for the students and their parents. On exam day, mothers pray at churches or outside the exam halls.

The life of a South Korean student, from kindergarten to high school, is shaped largely by the quest of doing well in standardized examinations to enter a choice university. That system is often credited with fueling the nation's economic success but is also widely criticized.

When massive anti-government protests shook South Korea in recent weeks, first over President Lee Myung Bak's agreement to import U.S. beef and later over his other policies, many of the demonstrators were teenagers protesting the pressure-cooker conditions at school. Among students between 10 and 19, suicide is the second most common cause of death after traffic accidents.

Lee's trouble started when people accused him of filling many top government posts with people who have ties with his alma mater, Korea University. Still, when he replaced his entire presidential staff this month, all but one of his 10 senior secretaries were graduates from the nation's three best-known universities. When the news media report government appointments, they always highlight the officials' school backgrounds.

It is no surprise that most students in this cram school say they enrolled voluntarily.

(my emphasis added)

Among students between 10 and 19, suicide is the second most common cause of death after traffic accidents

Among students between 10 and 19, suicide is the second most common cause of death after traffic accidents

Among students between 10 and 19, suicide is the second most common cause of death after traffic accidents

Among students between 10 and 19, suicide is the second most common cause of death after traffic accidents

Among students between 10 and 19, suicide is the second most common cause of death after traffic accidents

Among students between 10 and 19, suicide is the second most common cause of death after traffic accidents

Among students between 10 and 19, suicide is the second most common cause of death after traffic accidents

Among students between 10 and 19, suicide is the second most common cause of death after traffic accidents

(my emphasis added)

sigh.

3 comments:

Otto Silver said...

I love this part of the article...

"I first felt ashamed. I asked myself what I was doing in a place like this when all my friends were having a good time in college," said Chung Yong Seok, 19, who is trying again for Korea University after failing to win admission last year. "But I consider a year in this place as an investment for a better future."

... because collage is not about getting an education in Korea. It is all about WHERE you went for the fun

Tuttle said...

I am enjoying your blog. Amazing that although virtually every constitutency sees the problems, no one does anything about it.

I wrote about this at my blog as well (I am heading to Seoul to teach in August)

David said...

we're not much better across the ocean in the US I believe it goes #1 accidents, #2 homicide, #3 suicide,