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Safety as curricular subject

Posted May. 24, 2014 06:06,   


“French kids eat everything” by Karen Le Billon suggests that French people consider education on eating habit to be as important as education on reading. When children come home after school, French mothers ask “What did you eat for lunch?” instead of “What did you learn?” French children who learn eating habit from infancy eat three meals daily without fail, in lieu of eating snacks, drink plenty of water and enjoy balanced diet. Such early childhood education turns into lifetime habit, helping the French people keep their obesity rate the lowest in Europe.

In 2009, Lee Yoo-jong, then sixth grader at an elementary school in Gwangju, conducted cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to save his 50-something father, drawing keen attention from the media and public. Lee, the youngest son in his family, thought of the father who once collapsed due to cardiac arrest, and learned CPR by himself via the Internet. When his father showed signs of heart attack at around 1 a.m., he conducted CPR the way he had practiced all the time. Lee’s first aid measure was so immaculate that the first aid squad even complimented. This clearly illustrates the power of training that one takes at a young age.

Education Minister Seo Nam-soo told a consultative meeting of school safety and disaster-related experts on Friday, “We are closely reviewing a plan to introduce safety education as an independent subject while setting curricula integrating the humanities and social studies category, and natural science and engineering category. With people’s interest in safety education elevated following the Sewol disaster, the education authority plans to not only increase the number of classes on safety but also adopt safety as a credited subject. In advanced countries, safety is not a regular credited course, but is a required subject. Firefighters and policemen regularly visit schools, give students safety training on traffic accidents, fires and sexual violence, and bring them to fire departments to give hands-on training.

In Korea, a country where “teachers fiercely compete to secure the portion of their subject in the curricula,” creating a new subject that goes beyond different subjects is truly a big challenge. It is also uncertain teachers of which subject should teach safety. Irrespective of whether it will be a credited course or not, reinforcing safety education is absolutely necessary. Just as fastening the seat belt has significantly reduced deaths from traffic accidents, it is important to give repeated safety training and thereby get students familiarized to it. Giving students safety education at young ages is even more necessary than English or mathematics.

Editorial writer Chung Seong-hee (shchung@donga.com)