SEOUL, Feb. 12 (Korea Bizwire) – South Korea plans to introduce a credit system for high schools where students can choose the subjects they want to study, just like at university.
High school credit systems are already in place in Finland and the United States, regarded by some as the two most innovative countries in terms of education.
South Korea, by introducing a similar system, intends to resolve excessive competition over college entrance, and put more focus on student aptitudes and careers. It is also one of South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s pledges.
South Korea’s current system has been at the center of criticism for its lack of efficiency for educating each student, since it is designed in a way that allows a student to graduate as long as the student attends school over a designated period.
Naturally, students are increasingly deprived of autonomy and motivation.
Unlike South Korean high schools, where graduation is ensured if a student completes a three-year program, high schools in Finland have credit systems where students, in a non-hierarchical structure where they don’t count the number of years enrolled, can freely choose among required, advanced, and applied courses on various subjects.
The system, designed to meet the interests and aptitudes of the students, showed outstanding performance in motivating the students.
Currently, the United States, Singapore, England, Finland, Canada, and France use a credit system, allowing high school students to take lectures of their choice and earn enough credits to qualify for graduation.
The South Korean Ministry of Education announced on Monday that it will organize a task force to develop a high school credit system to lead its implementation.
The South Korean government plans to have the credit system partially introduced to all high schools by 2022 and apply the system of achievement standards-based assessment on all subjects by 2025 to fully implement the high school credit system.
Introducing a credit system requires an overhaul of the current high school system, which will involve using credits instead of hours of attendance, setting the qualifications for advancement or graduation, adding a course registration program, and changing the methods of assessment and lectures.
The South Korean version of a high school credit system is already in its trial phase, as 105 high schools were selected last year to test drive the scheme.
This year, it will be expanded to 354 schools. The course registration program, also being tested in certain schools, will go through a series of improvements until it is officially released in 2020.
Students and teachers at the designated schools were satisfied with the credit system.
In a survey conducted by the Ministry of Education on students and teachers at the 105 high schools operating the credit system, 69.7 percent of students and 76 percent of teachers said they were satisfied with the new system.
Moreover, online lectures will be made available at all offices of education, which will allow students to follow lectures being conducted at a different school.
Starting with schools that have implemented the departmentalized classroom system, the Ministry of Education will turn all libraries in high schools into ‘learning centers’ and minimize the distance of student travel inside the school building in order to maximize the efficiency of space that will better suit the new credit system.
Some have raised concerns, however, that this program may be subject to South Korea’s ‘custom’ of scrapping major projects when a new administration comes into office, which will only add to the confusion among students and parents.
Some even argue that increasing uncertainty surrounding the college entrance procedure is leading many to invest more in private education.
Excessive competition among high school students over universities in South Korea has been portrayed in “SKY Castle”, a South Korean TV drama that ended with massive popularity.
As experts point out that an increasing number of South Koreans are ‘inheriting’ the social and economic status of their parents, debates continue over the question of whether the new credit system will serve as a panacea for all educational gaps arising from the culture of inheriting wealth.
H. M. Kang (firstname.lastname@example.org)