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College Prep Leaves Textbooks Unused

Posted May. 30, 2006 03:08,   


Nine out of 10 high school seniors in Korea are not using at least one textbook. In addition, since the designation of every other week as a 5-day school week, club activities have largely subsided.

These are the findings of a survey of 3,887 high school seniors at eight high schools across the nation, including Baekma High School in Gyeonggi Province, on “non-used textbooks” and “the negative repercussions of a 5-day school week” conducted by the Federation of Korean High School Students’ Association (FKHSA, chaired by Hae Seul-gi, senior at Sungmoon High School). The FKHSA was launched last June as an association of high school student councils with 50 members nationwide.

Among the respondents, 91.9 percent answered that they have one or more textbooks that they do not use, while 43.7 percent said they have one to three textbooks they don’t use, 22.3 percent with four to six, and 25.9 percent with seven or more.

This is because most students buy textbooks at the beginning of a school year, but many high schools focus on preparing students for college entrance exams by working them through exercise books instead of using textbooks.

When the respondents were asked how much they spend on exercise books for school classes, 14.7 percent answered 10,000 to 30,000 won, 23.6 percent 40,000 to 60,000 won, and 26.6 percent 70,000 to 90,000 won. As many as 28.4 percent of the respondents said they spent more than 100,000 won. Meanwhile, 63.7 percent said they felt that the money spent on textbooks was wasted.

To the question, “How have club activities changed with the introduction of the 5-day school week?” 73.1 percent said their activities have diminished.

FKHSA Chairperson Hae said, “The 5-day school week has been implemented, but the class hours per week has not been reduced. Now, we have seven periods of classes for four days a week, up from two days before the new system. Club activities have been reduced, too.”

The FKHSA plans to send an e-mail to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education and Human Resources Development Kim Jin-pyo on the findings of the survey along with a list of requirements.

Among the requirements are selecting between making college entrance exams more related to textbook contents and purchasing exercise books instead of textbooks. The FKHSA will also ask the minister to reduce class hours.

Han Man-joong of the Korean Teachers and Education Workers’ Union said, “Publishers produce both textbooks and exercise books, which force students to buy both types. Textbooks should be improved so that schools can use them in class.”