SEOUL, Feb. 28 (Korea Bizwire) – Seoul’s education chief Cho Hee-yeon announced on Tuesday that a component on respect for life and cherishing animals will be part of the elementary school curriculum starting this upcoming semester and said the move was the first of its kind among the nation’s education bureaus.
Cho said, “Learning about the coexistence of people and animals and the proper relationship between the two must begin at an early age.”
The program dubbed “Animal Cherishing Education” can be divided into three stages: “Gaining Interest” (1st, 2nd grades), “Getting to Know One Another” (3rd, 4th grades) and “Being Together” (5th, 6th grades). Each stage consists of four subjects.
Primary education institutions that apply will be the first to implement the animal studies, starting with 1st and 2nd graders in the first semester and the rest of the school in the second term.
The first stage, Gaining Interest, is for children to begin learning about the emotional capacities of animals and the similarities they share with humans. At the next level, 3rd and 4th graders learn the tendencies of pets and how to be a good pet owner. At the final stage beyond Getting to Know One Another, the elementary school upperclassmen are asked to ponder the issue of animal welfare after being taught about the behaviors of zoo animals and their counterparts in the wild.
One teacher who was involved in drawing up the educational material said the children were highly proactive in participating given their love and innate curiosity for animals, and that what they learned appeared to translate into their personal lives back home.
According to a state ministry’s records, there were 5.93 million households with at least one pet last year, accounting for 28.1 percent of all households. This figure represents a 65.2 percent increase since 2012.