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Some e-textbooks for primary school kids to be government-authorized

South Korea will see a wider variety of e-textbooks offered for elementary school students with the government’s plan to allow more options to schools and students.

The Ministry of Education announced Friday that it plans to open up development and selection of social studies and science digital textbooks for third grade to sixth grade students to private publishers and have them government-authorized.

At present, such e-textbooks are developed, published and distributed by the government. The transition would allow private publishers to develop their own versions and obtain government authorization before publishing and distributing them.

The ministry said the move will allow more creative textbooks to be offered in the market and assure freedom of choice for students and teachers. The latest move is also a follow-up to the ministry making the same transition for offline, paperback social studies and science textbooks for third grade to sixth grade students.

After finalizing the plan next month, the ministry plans to transition the e-textbooks for third and fourth grade students in 2022 and cover higher grades from 2023.

Digital textbooks have been met with greater demand from schools and teachers since the coronavirus outbreak disrupted in-person classes and forcibly opened doors to the online learning environment. The ministry has asked for 48.7 trillion in next year’s budget to develop more digital textbooks.

Many students and teachers are in favor of the use of e-textbooks, even though many of them agree that digital textbooks lack quality content for now and the use of them could undermine concentration and trigger gaming addiction.

According to a survey from the Korea Education and Research Information Service this month on 8,916 elementary, middle and high school students, 81.3 percent of the respondents positively viewed the use of digital textbooks in classroom learning.

By Ko Jun-tae (ko.juntae@heraldcorp.com)
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