Narrowing education gap abroad in Korea

Korean educators participate in overseas teaching program

By Chung Hyun-chae

Korean teachers are striving to reduce the education gap in developing countries by offering better education while respecting local cultures.

“Unlike the past, when developing countries imitate developed countries’ education systems, I think developing countries should be committed to improving their education while protecting their own values,” Cho Ah-hyung, 27, an official at the Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation, told The Korea Times.

She taught math in Ethiopia and Uganda from August 2013 to July 2015 under the Ministry of Education’s program to send Korean teachers to developing countries.

“At that time, Ugandan students desired to learn through Korean-style education which they believed was technical and practical. I taught them how to solve math problems quickly and precisely,” Cho said. “I realized that rote learning, which has been criticized for its lack of creativity and critical thinking, can be an effective way for learning in some developing countries.”

Thanks in part to her efforts, one of Cho’s secondary school students won first place in the national mathematics contest in 2014.

Cho was selected again by the education ministry as one of the teachers who will be sent to South Africa next January.

The Ministry of Education plans to dispatch 340 teachers this year to 16 countries, including Vietnam, Peru, Paraguay, South Africa and Botswana to share Korea’s education knowhow with developing countries.

Seven retired teachers were also selected to work as consultants at institutes abroad for more than one year.

Launched by the education ministry and the National Institute for International Education in 2013, the program, called the World Friends Korean Teachers (WFKT), dispatches teachers to developing countries.

Since the World Education Forum, organized by UNESCO, was held May 19 to 22 in 2015 in Songdo, Incheon, to set new education goals, the international community has called for Korea to send more teachers to share its education system experience.