Seoul City to push back school hours [2014/11/12 09:47]

The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education is planning to introduce a new policy to shift the school timings to 9 a.m., allowing the students to get sufficient rest. “(The new policy) is expected to help students develop a healthy living pattern. We also hope it will boost academic efficiency by providing the students with adequate rest and sleeping hours,” Seoul Education Chief Cho Hi-yeon said in a news conference Monday.

Up to 1.16 million students in 1,345 schools in Seoul can potentially be subject to the late school hours. The SMOE will initiate a debate with elementary, middle and high schools in the city to see whether they are willing to accept the new policy. Accepting the policy is optional, but the debate is mandatary.

The policy was first implemented by Gyeonggi Provincial Office of Education in September and the education offices in North Jeolla Province, Jeju Island and Gwangju city -- headed by progressive educators -- are planning to adopt it. With the nation`s most populous city following suit, it is likely the trend will spread across the country.

Late school hour policy has been a hotly debated issue in the education circles, with authorities and teachers` groups at loggerheads over its proficiency. Progressive educators argue that the late school hours will be beneficial to sleep-deprived students, while conservatives argue that the supposed positive effects are questionable.

The latter also criticized the GPOE for carrying out the new measures without schools` consent. Cho said that the criticism about the unilateral decision is why he decided a citywide debate was needed before finalizing the process. “Personally, I think unifying the school hours (to start at 9 a.m.) would be fine but I am keeping an open mind for middle and high schools,” he said.

Lee Yong-hwan, who heads the department of elementary education at the SOME, said that the office is likely to provide a guideline on the ideal number of students, parents and teachers that will participate in the decision-making process.

Another problem that GPOE faced was that the late school hours have inconvenienced working parents who have to drop off their children early to school. In response to this issue, Cho said the SMOE will devise various before-school programs utilizing the existing resources, including school grounds and library.Due to budget constraints, the SMOE said it does not yet have plans to financially support the schools for the new measure.
출처: 헤럴드미디어 영자신문 코리아헤럴드 (