President Park vows to implement ‘creative education’

November 4, 2014
President Park Geun-hye speaks at a forum on education innovation co-sponsored by the South Korean government and the World Bank at the Intercontinental Hotel in Seoul on Nov. 4, 2014. (Yonhap)

President Park Geun-hye speaks at a forum on education innovation co-sponsored by the South Korean government and the World Bank at the Intercontinental Hotel in Seoul on Nov. 4, 2014. (Yonhap)

SEOUL (Yonhap) — President Park Geun-hye vowed Tuesday to restructure the South Korean education system to stress creativity by going beyond traditional paradigms, a view in line with her “creative economy” vision.

“Our education should be the source of creative ideas that sparks innovation,” Park said in a speech at an education symposium held jointly by South Korean education institutes and the World Bank.

She said South Korea is making efforts to ensure students can develop their creative potential, noting the future of each person and the nation is influenced by creativity and innovation, not by mere possession of knowledge.

South Koreans’ education fervor helped transform the country into Asia’s fourth-largest economy from the ashes of the 1950-53 Korean War. Education is one of the biggest sources of household spending in a highly competitive society where many people believe good academic performance is linked to decent jobs.

Still, Park admitted challenges facing South Korean students, saying they are under too much stress due to excessive education fervor over the state-run college entrance exam.

Critics say South Korea’s education system relies on simple memorization and rote learning, and lacks critical thinking.

In a keynote speech at the forum, World Bank President Kim Jim-yong agreed that South Korea’s educational system is successful but causes its society too much stress.

He went on to say that the Seoul government needs to improve the educational system so cognitive and non-cognitive skills of individual students can be developed in a balanced way.

The Korean-American health expert also called for efforts to help students, women and young people realize their latent creativity for the future development of the Korean economy.

According to Kim, Seoul needs to break down its currently inflexible social and economic structures bound by age and gender and create an environment in which people can freely exchange their opinions, he stressed.

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