The Korea Herald


Yoon orders Suneung to only cover materials taught in class

By Park Jun-hee

Published : June 15, 2023 - 19:20

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President Yoon Suk Yeol on Thursday ordered the Education Ministry to come up with measures to alleviate parents' financial burden on private education spending and to have the Suneung, the nation's scholastic aptitude test, only include materials taught in schools' classrooms.

Speaking to reporters at the presidential office, Education Minister Lee Ju-ho said the ministry will come up with relevant measures as ordered by the president.

The announcement came as South Korea sees a stark increase in private education spending, with students flocking to after-school cram schools, known here as hagwon, to get good scores on the test and guarantee admission to prestigious universities.

The country spent a record-high 26 trillion won ($20.3 billion) on private education last year.

The minister said the president also raised the importance of university reform, saying educational institutions should be a place where students find their purpose and desire.

“Universities, which are education suppliers, should meet the demands of learners by adhering to what (students) are willing to learn,” the president was quoted as saying by Lee.

A college degree from a prestigious university is still a means in Korea to landing a well-paying job, as many students aim to work at big corporate companies.

In most cases, university classrooms have a one-sided teaching style where educators directly pass on information to students rather than engaging in open-ended discussions, hindering students’ abilities to problem-solve and process theory.

Yoon pointed out that the education system must “innovate and transform” in line with economic and industrial demands, according to senior presidential secretary for press affairs Kim Eun-hye.

According to Yoon’s office, the president also urged university professors to provide autonomous learning models and programs to students, citing that prominent universities in advanced countries have already undergone such changes.

Education is one of Yoon’s top three areas of reform, along with labor regulations and the pension system.

Last week, South Korea became the first country in the world to announce that it would adopt artificial intelligence technology in the public education sector.