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S. Korea to allocate $276m for classroom digitization

By Choi Jeong-yoon

Published : April 15, 2024 - 15:10

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The Ministry of Education announced plans Monday to digitally transform traditional public education.

Dubbed the "classroom revolution," the initiative focuses on strengthening the capabilities of teachers who would take on pivotal roles in turning classrooms digital. The ministry has allocated some 381.8 billion won ($276 million) to support teachers.

As traditional teaching and learning methods were top-down or one-way, the new plan aims to cultivate creative and active learners, encouraging students to raise questions and conduct debates.

"The year 2025 is when Korean education will see massive changes through education reform, a new high school credit system and the implementation of digital textbooks using artificial intelligence," Education Minister Lee Ju-ho said, emphasizing the roles of teachers in bringing such changes by having digital skill sets.

To realize the digitization of classrooms, the ministry will foster some 34,000 teachers by 2026 to coach fellow teachers and guide them in adapting to the digital transition. The ministry aims to secure two to three teachers per school.

Taking the gaps in individual teachers' digital abilities, preferences and characteristics into account, teachers will be able to take simple diagnostic tests to assess their competency. Based on the results, teachers will receive training recommendations. The ministry plans to provide training opportunities to all teachers, first kicking off with some 150,000 teachers who will implement digital textbooks in elementary schools.

In order to alleviate the additional burden of teachers in acquiring digital skills, the ministry will test-run technical support centers across metropolitan education offices where teachers will be supported with equipment operation and in the event of malfunctions.

"Teachers who teach computer-related subjects in schools said they felt an extra burden in taking care of the equipment for other teachers in our previous survey. In order to take the unnecessary responsibility off of these teachers's hands, we will introduce 1,200 so-called 'digital tutors' to take on that job," a ministry official said at the Monday briefing.

The ministry will also invest some 800 million won to develop educational technologies that would help teachers reduce administrative work and focus more on teaching.

To encourage teachers to actively take up digital-based teaching, 100 teachers will be selected for an award and opportunities such as training overseas for advanced education programs.

"We will also encourage teachers to actively and autonomously take training sessions by giving extra points in teachers' assessments or promotions, such as to the position of principal, to those taking the curriculum," the official said.