South Korea’s education law has been revised to allow all undergraduate students to continue their studies and to take semesters off if they are married or become pregnant while at school, the Education Ministry announced Friday.
Up until now, each university in the country had had different rules regarding marriages and pregnancies.
Some universities had previously banned students from marrying and becoming pregnant while working on their degrees. Some schools would expel those who broke these controversial rules.
In 1951, former late President Kim Young-sam had to “secretly” marry his wife Son Myung-soon, who was then a student at Ewha Womans University. This was because Son’s school did not allow students to get married. Son hid her marital status and finished her degree in pharmacy, even concealing her first pregnancy by wearing loose clothing.
Ewha Womans University scrapped its ban on marriage in 2003, more than 110 years after the rule was established. The school claimed it had initially introduced the policy to prevent its female students from being forced into marriage at a young age without getting an opportunity for education in the late 19th century.
In 2013, two students -- one female and the other male -- were expelled from Korea Armed Forces Nursing Academy, after it was confirmed that they were expecting a child. The couple was not legally married at the time.
The academy, which is regulated by the Defense Ministry and not the Education Ministry, still bans its students from marriage. “We are not sure if the education law revision will have any effect on us,” its official said.
The law revision also allows all students to take semesters off for the purpose of child care. Up to this point, students at some universities have had no choice but to quit school when they needed a break from their studies to take care of newborns.
By Claire Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org