COVID-19 has left many challenges for the education community, such as delayed development of young children and deteriorating academic performance of students. Experts point out that the so-called “COVID generation,” referring to students who wore masks to school and received online education, requires special attention and support.
Deteriorated academic performance impacted by the pandemic was evident in the national academic achievement evaluation. According to the results of the 2021 national academic achievement evaluation, which the Education Ministry made public in June last year, the ratio of high school sophomores failing to meet basic academic requirements in Korean, mathematics, English, and other subjects increased. In particular, the ratio for mathematics surged from 9.0% in 2019 to 14.2% in 2021.
Deteriorated academic performance during the pandemic was largely attributable to online classes, which lasted for two years. According to a report titled “Exploring the current status of mathematics education for middle and high school mathematics during the pandemic and suggestions for improvement,” released by the Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation, 86.4% (715) out of 827 math teachers across the nation replied that they did not find online classes to be effective. “Students who had no parental guidance during online class hours showed low concentration levels in particular,” said Park, a high school math teacher in Seoul.
Kindergarteners and elementary school students showed delayed development in linguistic and social skills. “Students that entered elementary school during or after the pandemic took place lack articulation in speaking and have trouble with spelling,” said Yoon, an elementary school teacher based in Daejeon. Many children also have trouble making friends. Current fourth graders who entered elementary school in 2020 have no experience attending school without wearing masks.