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FKI Plans to Make New Middle School Economics Textbook

Posted July. 20, 2007 03:12,   


In the face of an ever-increasing threat to the market economy in Korea, the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) felt compelled to design an economics textbook for middle school students. Business circles have expressed concerns that the current economics textbooks are leaning too much on ‘leftist values,’ such as justifications for government intervention, corporate social responsibility, and the importance of distribution.

“When companies interview new job applicants, they become disappointed at their low economic knowledge and some of them have ideologically-distorted views on the market economy,” said Lee Yoon-ho, the FKI’s full-time vice chairman. He added that the business circles are appalled at the state of Korean economic education.

If market economy principles are to take deep root in our society, the FKI decided that it would be best to teach students early when they are in middle school. Although economics is included in the high school curriculum, it is offered as an elective course. Not surprisingly, many students avoid the subject because many feel it is too difficult. High school students’ reluctance to take the subject was also another factor why the FKI decided to make a separate economics textbook for middle school students.

In fact, the number of high school students who took economics in the Suneung exams, the nation’s university entrance exam, stayed at mere 16 percent last year, forming a stark contrast to the percentage of students who took social and cultural studies and geography, numbering 71.9 percent and 67.8 percent, respectively.

An FKI official said, “If a student doesn’t take economics in high school, middle school is probably the last chance for them to receive any formal economic education. This is why a middle school economics textbook is so important in our education system.” Since economics is included in social studies in the middle school curriculum, the FKI’s new textbook will be used as assistant material.

The proposed textbook will be composed of four chapters: life and economics, understanding the market economy, understanding national economics, and the future challenges of our economy.

Despite some opposition to FKI-made high school economics textbooks early this year, these books have received wide support with 38,000 orders so far. The success of the previous textbook has encouraged FKI to reach further out to middle school students.

When the FKI held its first teaching seminar on the new high school economics textbook in FKI hall located in Yeouido, Seoul yesterday, 56 middle and high school teachers and professors attended the event, reflecting the education circles’ growing interest in the new textbooks.

President Jeon Taek-soo of the Korea Economic Education Association, one of the main authors of the new high school economics textbook, gave lectures in the first two sessions of the seminar.

Jeon said, “Among the authors, some were business-friendly and some labor-friendly. However, we united under the grand mission to teach basic market economy principles that work in the global market.”

Kang Dong-yeon, an economics teacher with nine years of experience at Myungduk Foreign High School in Seoul, said, “The FKI’s new textbook alone can teach economics to students because it is abundant in information and knowledge. We teach economic principles, not ideologies.”

Professor Lee Myeong-un of the research institute for industry and economy at Inha University also attended the teaching seminar. He said, “Our school used the new textbook for an undergraduate summer school course. In the beginning, students resisted the idea of learning from a high school textbook. In the end, however, they all agreed that the book was more useful than the world-renowned economics textbook ‘Principles of Economics’ by Mankiw.”