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No School on Saturday for the First Time

Posted March. 25, 2005 23:34,   


A Heavier Burden for the Parents -

Many parents are feeling the economical and psychological burden of suddenly having to deal with Saturday holidays.

To begin with, working spouses who have no place to entrust their children on Saturdays have increased their concerns over this matter. According to the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education, around 100,000 elementary school students, or 13 percent of a total of 730,000 students in Seoul elementary schools, are “home alone students” on Saturdays.

Working mother Lee Gyung-mi (44, Bangbae-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul) plans to enroll her two daughters, who are second and sixth graders, in school programs. Lee said, “They need hands-on activities in order to be competitive in their studies from now on, but I am sorry for my daughters that I cannot let them engage in any activities on Saturdays like other parents do for their children.”

There is a considerable financial burden in providing hands-on experiences or enjoying leisure activities with the children on Saturdays. Housewife Oh (41, Bundang-gu, Sungnam, Gyeonggi Province) expressed her concern, saying, “If I want to go on a trip with my children, I am faced with traffic fees, various entry fees and dining costs that are not a small amount.”

Discontent is arising as well over the fact that there is no social infrastructure to cope with Saturday holidays. In Japan, for instance, elementary school students are given free admission into national art centers and museums on Saturdays, and they are also given a “weekend children’s pass” on the Japan Rail, which entitles them to enjoy a discount for rides.

Meanwhile, in order to understand the change in the students’ lifestyles due to the Saturday breaks and to prepare for an increased operation of this system, the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development is planning to select two elementary, middle, and high schools from each city province’s Office of Education (totaling 96 schools), and run a survey by November.

In addition, the ministry has agreed to hold Saturday holidays twice a month in 290 (2.7 percent of all schools nationwide) elementary, middle and high schools, and to fix the five-day-a-week plan for next year after gathering opinions through public hearings.