Remember staying in school even after all the regular classes had ended? Some practiced English musicals, played musical instruments under the teacher’s lead, or studied Sino-Korean letter for a certain license. If you needed additional studies for so-called main subjects, you may have applied for mathematics or English debate classes. These kinds of after-school programs began to be more frequently employed from 2006, when three of the original formats special ability aptitude education, afterschool class, and graded additional classes were integrated into after school programs. This provided students some programs that could develop individual students’ ability and strength, which is often too difficult to do during the regular classes. As such, these are the positive functions of after school programs that will make you keenly aware of their necessity.
What’s good in after school programs?
First, after school programs can alleviate the average cost for private education. According to the research in 2012 by KEDI, Korean Educational Development Institute, students who participated in after school programs spent 440,000won less per year for private education than students who didn’t. Therefore, because most parents who want their children to go to academy or receive private tutoring might choose this avenue for education. Further a need for this is due to even the educational cost going higher day by day, which may be one of the main reasons for the low birth rate in Korea. This tendency enlarges the educational gap between the rich and poor, too. If after school programs provide various educational opportunities, they would largely contribute to narrowing the gap because of economic circumstances. Also, it has a function of welfare, too. After school programs not only work as a facilitator for students to study, but also takes care of students who don’t have any place to go after all the regular classes cease. So, the after school programs can be a cozy, educational, and safe place for a while for the latch-key children. Due to all these positive functions, it would be great news that afterschool programs have developed both quantitatively and qualitatively. According to the research by KEDI, the number of them has increased from 495,000 to 538,000 and the percentage of student participation from 63% to 71% during the last 4 years. Also, students’ satisfaction improved from 68% to 81% and parents’ from 69% to 80%.
How’s the reality?
Although all these advantages and current state seem to be ideal for public education, the real image of after school programs looks slightly different from them. Looking into the realities in schools, one can easily meet a plethora of students complaining about compulsory after school programs. Actually, it is quite hard to find after school programs employing special ability aptitude or courses in life education these days. Unfortunately, most schools tend to proceed with additional classes for the so-called main subjects, Korean, mathematics, and English, which are even compulsory, sometimes. One middle school 2nd grade student complained that her homeroom teacher always forced her to make a circle in “participate” place and forge her mother’s signature right after handing her the handout. The teacher also announced that he would include the parts he covered during the after school programs in the mid-term exam. Therefore, it is nearly impossible not to apply for the after school programs even if the students really do not want to. This iron-will of schools to make the students apply for after school programs seems to be partly originated in the assessment guidelines of teachers and schools. The proportion of students’ participation takes a huge ratio in teacher assessment.
What should we do?
Although the after school programs should be managed on their original meaningful intention; however, it’s already spoiled a lot in reality. There is a strong tendency to use the classes as additional time for main subjects, which will only cause them to resemble an alternative to academies. In this so-called “examination hell” reality, special efforts would be needed to prevent the after school programs from becoming synonymous as a “cheaper academy.” In addition, there is a lack of programs rooted on the fact that there is a lack of teachers for various courses. Financial and human resources are urgently needed. Finally, to ensure the most beneficial after school programs are implemented, countermeasures for being boring and tiresome caused by staying all day in school would be helpful, too.
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