More than 100,000 people have signed up in support of plans to enhance history education at schools, including making the subject test compulsory for college admission, reports said.
Sungshin Women’s University professor Seo Kyoung-duk first launched a petition campaign in June, urging the government to require all students take Korean history on the national College Scholastic Ability Test.
Seo, who has actively promoted Korea overseas on many issues, including Dokdo and comfort women, said the campaign had collected the signatures in less than two months both online and offline.
Currently, students are allowed to choose two of 10 optional subjects, including Korean history, world history, geography, economics and politics, for the CSAT’s social studies section.
The Ministry of Education plans to decide this week whether to include Korean history on the list of mandatory subjects ― currently Korean, math and English ― and require all colleges use the test scores for admission starting from 2017.
The ministry also seeks to encourage field trips and develop new curriculum and teaching materials to help get young pupils interested in the subject.
The decision came after President Park Geun-hye said recently that she was worried about the young generations’ increasing ignorance of the country’s history.
Some experts, including Seo, believe requiring all students to take a history test for college admission might help them learn the subject more thoroughly.
“Citizens want to see a compulsory history test and good history education for our children, and I hope that the ministry will make the final decision soon,” he said.
Critics, however, claim that the compulsory history test may only add more pressure on students, who are already under enormous stress from cutthroat competition to enter college.
They are also concerned that it may turn more students to private tutoring, in conflict with the Park administration’s plan to curb rising private education costs.
“The purpose of the (CSAT) test is to measure basic knowledge of students required to advance to university. I don’t think a shortage in the understanding of history makes them unable to major in subjects like math, biology and chemistry,” Lee Yun-ho, professor of social studies education at Suncheon National University, previously told The Korea Herald.
By Oh Kyu-wook (email@example.com