Go to contents

School Fences Are Gone, So Are Civic Mindedness

Posted June. 10, 2003 21:50,   


At a middle school in Secho-dong, Seoul at 11:30 p.m. on June 6, two young men were practicing driving on the playground. The school removed the fence around the playground last year. Only some 30m apart, a group of about 10 students were playing basketball under the dim light of street lamps. Students were wary about the two drivers as they made screaming sound starting and stopping the car.

At a primary school in Sungrae-dong, Seoul at around 11:00 p.m., three men in their 20s were drinking alcohol on the bench at the corner, while members of a family were rope-jumping on the opposite side. There were cigarette butts and instant fried noodle bowls around the bench. There were also traces of tires on the playground, indicating that people sneaked into the school to practice driving.

˝I feel ashamed watching little children cleaning up messes every morning,˝ said an official at the school.

The lack of civic mindedness is in fact hurting the good-will `Open School Fence` campaign led by the Seoul Government and the education authorities. The campaign is aimed at creating green school environments for sound mind of little students and some quality time for residents.

Seoul City has so far injected 25 billion won into 159 primary, middle and high schools nationwide, and is set to allocate additional 10 billion won for some 81 schools.

Despite the good intention of the campaign, school playgrounds are used as garbage dumps, driving practice courses and hideouts of juvenile delinquents, instead of serving as resting places for communities, according to a survey on 10 schools in Seoul.

An high school in Seocho-dong, Seoul, which broke down the fence in 2001, has recently rebuilt a green-colored wire wall on the west side near lush trees. Residents and students broke into this side of the school destroying trees around, although there was no road this way.

˝People even dump big wastes such as consumer electronic goods and some juvenile delinquents inhale bond around here sometimes,˝ pointed out an official at the school. The school already asked the police station across the road to patrol this area.

A middle school in Doksan-dong in Geumcheon-gu has spent more money in repair and maintenance since it opened the fence last year. Last month, someone threw a stone and broke a large glass window worth 1 million won. Since people broke down trees climbing over a low fence, the school had to plant trees again.

˝Some people even bring a portable gas range to cook and leave trashes behind,˝ said a teacher of the lack of civic mindedness. ˝We are now considering putting up a wall again.˝

˝At a council meeting last month, we decided to install more street lamps and cooperate with the police to protect facilities,˝ said an official at the Seoul City Government. ˝We hope this good-will campaign will be able to produce fruit as it is intended.˝

Sun-Woo Kim sublime@donga.com