South Korea

South Korea has rightly had its name up in lights with its response to Covid-19. One of the first countries outside of China to get the virus, and it did have the second highest rate of infections at one stage. The country has dealt with the spread better than many countries across the world with its quick and scientific approach to dealing with this global pandemic.

South Korea is one of the first countries to begin to get back to some sort of ‘normality’ with schools beginning to open, but open to online learning. Something which is causing some trepidation to teachers, parents and children despite the country being one of the leading countries when it comes to mobile technology and where over 90% of people have a smartphone.

Teachers, parents and indeed students in South Korea are concerned about how they will be able to make up for lost time using technology as a platform until schools can open for real. At the point of writing this all students in compulsory education are completing school online. However issues arise for children in elementary school who are not yet able to learn independently and require parental supervision. This is becoming a problem as parents begin to head back to work as the country opens the economy up.

Some students believe there will be a lack of focus during online learning where students may procrastinate more in the comfort of their own home. Many students feel they will be at a disadvantage when it comes to exams, which are still highly important for students to get employment after school.

A further problem is the lack of devices for schools to conduct learning. Which is a surprise in a country that is self described as a ‘technology powerhouse’. There are still 170,000 students without devices to join in with online learning, more in the rural areas of the country. More problematic at the moment is that government can only supply 38,000 devices for these children in part due the price hike for these products as demand grows and supply shrinks. The government has however pledged $1.2 million to develop wireless internet infrastructure for some rural schools. Still, it is inevitable that some students will fall behind the curriculum.

Even without some of the technological problems there is a worry among teachers that they are yet to be fully trained in order to carry out effective online teaching, thereby setting students even further behind. Major exams have only been set back by 2 weeks despite many more weeks going by without traditional schooling.

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“If the government and the Ministry of Education push ahead with unprepared policies and measures, confusion in the field of education will only increase, and in the end, students, parents, and frontline teachers will suffer,”

South Korea has recently postponed its plan to open schools and it’s citizens seem to support the strategy.”A government survey of parents and others this week showed 72% of respondents opposed the April 6 opening of schools and 66% supported online teaching, Yoo said.” (Reuters) It has also delayed its college entrance exams.

South Korea’s international schools are offering substantial online and virtual learning programs.


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