REPUBLIC OF KOREA. Regional Preparatory Workshop on Inclusive Education. East Asia. Hangzhou, China, 3 5 November 2007

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1 REPUBLIC OF KOREA Regional Preparatory Workshop on Inclusive Education East Asia Hangzhou, China, 3 5 November 2007 UNESCO International Bureau of Education

2 Inclusive Education in the Republic of Korea Kye-Ok KIM, Educational Researcher Special Education Policy Division Ministry of Education & Human Resources Development Republic of Korea Country Paper for the Regional Preparatory Workshop on Inclusive Education November 3, Beijing In Korea, the Constitution, Education Law, Special Education Law, and other regulations guarantee equal educational opportunities for all children. Article 31 of the Constitution of the Republic of Korea stipulates that every citizen shall have a right to receive education according to his or her ability and aptitude, and mandates all citizens to have their children receive compulsory primary and secondary education, and education as recognized in legislation. In accordance with the Constitution, Article 4 of the Framework Act on Education states that there shall be an equal opportunity of education for all, where no citizen shall be discriminated against in education for reasons of sex, religion, faith, social standing, economic status or physical conditions, etc. Based on the laws and regulations, various policies are being established and implemented to support education for all children. Usually the concept of 'inclusive education' is understood as policies ensuring educational access at regular schools for students with disabilities. At the Korean Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development, a number of divisions are responsible for supporting different children groups. The Special Education Policy Division is in charge of the inclusion of children with disabilities and children with learning difficulties. The Educational Welfare Policy Division oversees matters related to children from low income families,

3 children from North Korean refugee families and children from multi-cultural families. The Elementary and Secondary Education Policy Division devises and implements policies to support children that have low academic achievement levels. Primarily, Koreans are a homogeneous people, with little difference between ethnicity. However, with the growth of foreign nationals in the country in recent years, it is becoming increasingly necessary for Korea to take into account a wider diversity of learners including children from different ethnic backgrounds. Nowadays, children who do not speak at school, children with genius talents, children who are slow in every activity due to obesity, children of foreign workers, and children who wander around during class, can be found easily at general schools. These are examples of children who need special attention and assistance. Although public attention for these children have somewhat come into existence thanks to the supportive promotion activities of celebrities, international marriages have been on the rise following the increase of foreign worker influx, and thus, there should obviously be more consideration for these cases. In response to changing demands, the ministry launched a Five-year Education Welfare Plan for Students with Disabilities in In 1998, the ministry initiated more supportive policies such as providing free education for 5-year-olds from low income families, and giving out free computers to economically underprivileged students. Since 2003, as a part of the Human Resource Development Plan, the ministry has also provided support for adolescents who have not been able to continue studies. Added to these, there have also been concrete educational policies responding to the increase of foreigners and international marriages, and other changes in particular political, economic, domestic and international societal environments. Inclusive Education for Students with Disabilities In Korea, 65,940 students receive special education services as presentes in <Figure1>. Among them 42,977 students are integrated in regular school setting. Inclusive education was first stipulated in the Special Education Promotion Law in Since then, the number of disabled students being placed within the regular education system has seen a rapid increase.

4 Under the Law, in order to assure the quality of education for students with disabilities, the ministry develops instructional material for students and teachers, provides in-service teacher training programs on curricular revision, and supports the placement of teacher aides. The Special Education Promotion Law stipulates free education for all students with disabilities. Elementary and middle school courses must also be provided as compulsory education for all disabled students. Recently, in May 2007, in order to accommodate growing demands from parents and the diversifying needs of a rapidly changing society, the Special Education Promotion Law was revised into the Special Education Law for the Disabled and those with Special Needs. Major changes include the stipulation of free and compulsory education for students with disabilities from kindergarten through high school, free education for 3-year-olds and younger who have disabilities or are at risk, and free lifelong education programs for adults with disability. Notably, disability awareness is one of the biggest challenges in regards to the inclusion of children with disabilities. In Korea, there are on-going efforts to promote awareness for the needy through schemes such as developing teaching material, movies and animations, and organizing writing contests. From 2005 the education ministry has also been holding a 'Concert of Hope'. The concert is composed of celebrity musicians with disabilities, who visit schools to hold special concerts. They usually receive spotlights from newspapers and broadcasters, thus contributing to the promotion of disability awareness in Korean society. <Fig. 1> Current Status of Special Education Regular Schools Classification Special Schools Special Classes Regular Classes Total Number of Students Kindergarten 1, ,494 3,125 Elementary 7,657 22,498 2,597 32,752 Middle 6,286 7,500 1,481 15,267 High 7,988 (including 1,447 students in major fields) 4,743 2,065 14,796

5 Total 22,963 35,340 7,637 65,940 Number of Schools 144 4,530 3,621 8,295 Number of Classes 3,278 5,753 6,263 15,294 Source : Special Education Indicators of Korea (2007); Ministry of Education Policies Concerning the Education of Multi-cultural Families Korea has recently been seeing an increase of foreigners coming from different ethnic and/or cultural backgrounds. In 2006, the Ministry of Education established the term multi-cultural families, and set forth a series of caring policies to support them. For example, the government provides afterschool programs for the children of multi-national families, gives preference for the children of multinational families to access mentoring programs at colleges, and operates in-service teacher training to promote sensitivity in their care for minority groups. Until only recently, the Korean people have strongly believed that Korea is a homogeneous country. But with the fast increase of international marriages, influx of foreign labor, and permission for the children of illegal migrant workers to attend regular school, such mind-sets have been changing lately. A single language and same skin color is no longer an obvious view in the country s public schools. <Figure 2> and <Figure 3> show the actual status of children from international marriages and foreign migrant worker families. According to 2006 statistics, the number of international marriages reached only 3.7percent of all marriages in Korea. But a year later in 2007(연도 확인 요), there were 39,690 international marriages out of a total of 332,752 marriages in Korea, translating into a ratio of 11.9 percent. The percentage is currently continuing an upward move, which has also influenced the growth of multi-cultural children. As Figure 1 shows, compared to 2005, over the past two years, the number of students from international marriage families has seen an increase of 68.4% in elementary schools, 71.9 percent in middle schools and 48.0% in high schools, marking a total of 68.1 percent increase in average. <Fig.2> Children of International Marriage Couples

6 Year Elementary School Middle School High School Total Number ± (%) Number ±(%) Number ±(%) Number ±(%) , , , , , , , <Fig.3> Children of Foreign Migrant Workers Year Elementary School Middle School High School Total Number ± (%) Number ± (%) Number ± (%) Number ± (%) , , , , Reports also indicate that there are approximately 630,000 foreigners residing in Korea. Estimations are that an additional 380,000 are living in the country on an illegal status. While the children of legal foreign workers are apt to receive regular educational service, it is very difficult for children of illegal foreigners to enter elementary or middle school. Even if a child whose parents are illegal sojourners manage to enter school, it is oftentimes difficult for him/her to adapt to classes, due to the lack of Korean language proficiency. Added to this, the perception that they are children of low-income foreign laborers poses more difficulty in adaptation. In an attempt to resolve these problems, the Ministry of Education laid out a comprehensive policy to support the education of children from multicultural families in At the regional level, Consulting Centers for Foreign Students School Entrance have been established within local offices of education. So far, the education ministry has also published 23 types of Korean language teaching material for foreign students and teachers, testoperated pilot schools that provide education programs for multi-cultural children. The ministry also provided KSL classes and after-school activities for 858 children in 97 schools, offered 17 Korean cultural comprehension programs, and operated 17 information and educational programs for multi-cultural family parents. In addition, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family has been working on the establishment of the Multi-cultural Family Support Law, a process that goes in line with the goals of Education for All.

7 Children of North Korean Refugees The children of North Korean defectors show a serious deficiency in education due to the usually long period of 'defection process'. A portion of these students are also known to be suffering from psychological instability due to 'group bullying' at school, or because of difficulties in adapting to a new society. In an attempt to help the children of North Korean defectors better adjust to secondary school education in South Korea, the Ministry of Education & Human Resources Development announced a comprehensive support plan on May 2, 2007 that includes measures to introduce an educational protection officer system, provide free after-school programs, improve the academic qualification accreditation system, and develop instructional manuals for classroom teachers. The plan came as an effort to prevent the students from dropping studies due to maladjustment, and help them pursue normal school education in a new environment. Currently 1,015 North Korean defector teenagers are studying in 275 schools and educational institutions across the country in the South. The dropout rate reached 0.8 percent and 1.4 percent among middle school and high school students, respectively, in As a countermeasure, the ministry will first introduce an Education Protection Officer system, and designate teachers who will provide educational information and counseling for students and undertake responsibility for their protection. In 2007, the system will be operated in nine regions, starting with areas with a population of more than ten North Korean youth defectors. For an additional 200 students currently enrolled in schools, the ministry will provide free tickets to attend after-school programs during the year. Steps will be taken to improve the accreditation of North Korean students academic attainments, considering the difference of school systems between the South and the North. For these students, the ministry plans to apply a flexible accreditation system that takes into consideration various factors including a student s schooling years, academic performance and ability and age. Vocational education and career counseling services will also be

8 provided so that the students may find suitable employment opportunities upon graduation. Alongside, recognizing that improving teacher capacity will play a crucial role in the above endeavors, the ministry will open bid for teacher developed training programs and research projects. Teachers are to design programs to support defector students, such as mentoring, case studies, education for parents, evaluation sheets, information exchange systems, etc., and apply for the government s financial support. Each selected program will be granted 10~30 million Korean won in aid. In addition, the Hankyoreh Middle and High School will complete construction and open doors in 2007 as a specialized school exclusively operated for North Korean youth defectors. The school is expected to function as a stepping-stone for the students, providing certain periods of basic education prior to their transfer to general schools. Support for Students of Low Income Families Low income families generally have a deteriorated household, a very unstable relationship among family members, and frail educational backgrounds. Students of low income families are reported as having low school attendance, and in many cases, school drop-outs occur as a result of a household s economic difficulties. The education ministry has been implementing a Master Plan to Assist Regions that Require Priority Investment in Educational Welfare. Priority regions with many low income families are to receive concentrated educational welfare support. Under this plan, the ministry supports the students in the most needy areas with orientation and psychotherapy programs, meal provision, health education, after-school voucher program and edu-care for infants and children under age 6, in an integrative manner. In rural areas, the ministry groups 2 to 3 schools into one attendance boundary, so as to manage the support system more effectively. Efforts are also being expanded to place more excellent educational personnel in integrated school communities. The Education Ministry designate 60 priority regions and in total, 30,000 National Basic Livelihood Support students are now under support, accounting for approximately 14 percent of all students living on government aid. The ministry plans to increase this ratio to 25 percent in

9 2008, by which the number of beneficiary regions is expected to grow to 100. Drop-out Students and Non-Schooled Students The 2004 Five-year Plan for educational Welfare reports that every year, four thousand students drop out from secondary schools. Since elementary and middle school education is compulsory in Korea, all children are automatically moved on to the next grade year, even should their basic academic achievement fall behind. Many problems ensue as students with low academic performance go up to higher levels of education, such as their loss of educational interest, maladaptation behaviors at school, and frequent drop-outs. The ministry set up minimum academic achievement standard and emphasizes teachers accountability for basic academic ability. Local educational offices select students under the minimum academic achievement standard and support them with after-school activities, utilizing human and material resources in the communities, using supplemental educational programs provided by the ministry. They provide incentives to teachers and schools which manage the programs effectively making excellent models. As for drop-outs they implement distance on-line education or alternative school programs drop-outs to continue their studies. There have been alternative programs, however, Following the revision of the Primary and Secondary Education Act in 2006, a Regulation on the Establishment and Operation of Alternative Schools was approved and promulgated on June 28, 2007, opening new possibilities in the provision of alternative education for drop-out students. The education ministry will continue to provide financial support for alternative schools, including teaching/learning material, textbooks, equipment and program operation costs. As such, the Government of Korea is exerting efforts to include all children into the educational system and provide appropriate programs to establish and implement concrete supportive policies. Though there is wide understanding among policy makers and schools with regard to Korea s education welfare policy, the lack of public awareness is still one of the biggest challenges. Recently, the government has encountered a sharp increase of

10 demands from activists or families of children with disabilities. How to effectively meet such needs and how to pursue educational environment improvement in a coordinated and available pace are some of the problems that the government will be focusing on in future policy developments. Keeping a balance between levels of support which local educational offices are afford to is also a challenge.

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