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South Korea. Changes to Suneung’s Killer Exam That Dropped Fertility

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South Korea will change its lengthy college entrance exams. Their very high level of difficulty and the pressure associated with it, according to experts, had a negative impact on society, contributing, among others, to to a dramatic decline in fertility in the country.

The South Korean authorities are planning to make changes to the College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT), called Suneung. This is one of the most important Korean exams required of all those who want to get into the best universities in the country. However, its “deadly” high level of difficulty has long been widely criticized by scientists, politicians, teachers and parents.

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The end of the “killer exam”

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The Suneung exam is considered by many young Koreans to be decisive for their future, so much of their lives revolve around studying. However, as CNN notes, many believe that the tedious process of preparing teenagers for this test has a number of negative consequences – from social inequalities and mental problems of young people to a falling fertility rate in the country.

In South Korea, there is exceptionally fierce competition in university entrance exams – almost 70 percent of students in the country go to university in this country. high school graduates. The Suneung Exam is a “rat race” and the focus is on the so-called killer questions, i.e. the most difficult ones, among which often those whose scope differs from the material covered in public schools. Education Minister Lee Ju-ho, quoted by CNN, emphasized that this gave an advantage to those who could afford additional, paid tutoring.

The Korean authorities therefore want to “break the vicious circle of private education that increases the burden on parents and undermines the fairness of education,” Lee said. The “killer questions” are therefore to disappear from the exam, and the government is to provide more extracurricular activities as part of public schooling. The changes are to apply already during this year’s exam, traditionally held in November.

The NGO The World Without Worry About Private Education welcomed the announcement, saying it was necessary to prevent “kids from being engulfed in excessive competition.” Critics argue that the decision will only provide a superficial solution to a much more complex problem.

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Studying in South Korea

In the face of extremely difficult questions that traditionally appeared at Suneung, in 2022 as many as 78.3 percent. of all students enrolled in extracurricular activities, according to estimates by the South Korean Ministry of Education. At the same time, tutoring consumes a significant part of their household budget – according to the ministry, in 2022 alone, Koreans spent a total of almost USD 20 billion (equivalent to over PLN 80 billion) on private education, and the average student spent about USD 311 (approx. PLN 1.2 thousand). ) per month for this purpose.

Many experts believe that difficult exams and high tuition costs are one of the reasons why Koreans do not want to have children, and if they do – they limit themselves to only one. These costs are compounded by negative factors such as the high cost of living and long working hours.

South Korea it is regularly ranked as the most expensive place in the world to raise a child from birth to age 18, largely due to the cost of education. Many couples feel that they need to focus their financial resources on just one child if they decide to have children at all. one of the lowest in the world, and almost three times the birth rate is needed to sustain the population.

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CNN, New York Times, tvn24.pl

Main photo source: kim hyun u/shutterstock

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