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Korean history to be required subject

Korean history will become a required subject at every school from 2012 and teachers should pass a history exam to be appointed.

The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology on Friday unveiled a plan to strengthen history education.

“In new schoolbooks, Japan renewed its sovereignty claim over Dokdo and distorted historic facts regarding Korea. Now is a very critical time for Koreans to have a stronger sense of history,” said Education Minister Lee Joo-ho in a news conference.

Currently, all schools teach Korean history, but for high school students Korean history is optional, with only 10 percent of them choosing the subject.

“The plan is meaningful as it will pave the way for young students to build up their consciousness of history. The ministry will make history classes easier and more interesting to study by adopting various activities such as field trips,” said the minister.

In order to increase public interest in Korean history, the ministry plans to adopt it as a subject of the civil service examination and require teachers to pass a history exam regardless of their major from 2013.

However, the ministry decided not to include Korean history in the subjects of the nation’s highly competitive college entrance exam.

“The decision is aimed at relieving study pressure on students preparing for college entrance exams by limiting the number of test subjects. The importance of history will be taught through interesting experiences rather than stressful examination,” Lee said.

The nation’s history education has concentrated on its modern history, according to Lee Tae-jin, president of the National Institute of Korean History.

Right after independence from Japanese colonial rule, school education emphasized nationalism among children.

However, over past decades marked by the rapid development of Korea, history education has been overshadowed by economic values.

Critics say the country has a weak assertion to dispute claims made in recently strengthened history education in neighboring countries such as Japan and China.

“In this globalized era, we have to take a pride in our own culture. And the pacifism found in our history can be the value through which we can appeal to the international community,” Lee said.

“We need to approach history education from a new perspective, not just from the previous test-oriented angle,” he said.

By Lee Ji-yoon (
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Korea Herald daum