For many years Korean Society has known that something has not been right with the procedures for entrance to college but the remedies have not come easily. The desire of the people for more and better education and the efforts to improve educational opportunities for all have benefited the country; this is not easily denied. But the human price being paid for this success needs to be addressed.
With the approach of Youth Sunday, May 29, the editorial in the Catholic Times returns to this controversial issue. In a recent survey gauging several factors affecting youth in China, Japan and Korea, the happiness index of Korean youth was found to be the lowest. Blame was given to the educational system's procedures for preparing students for the entrance exams to college, in effect taking away the dreams and hopes of many of our less competent young people.
The editorial asks what has the Korean Church done to return the dreams and hope to the young. Also, in the OECD list of countries, Korea is near the bottom when rating the happiness index of the participating countries. The first step, according to the editorial, is to have a common awareness of the problem and to formulate programs for change.
There is a movement in Korea for alternative schools which have a different atmosphere and are not geared for college entrance exams. The editorial is asking Catholic alternative schools to be an example. They have been set up to be freer, diverse in their teaching, and directed to the whole person. There are many ideas on what has to be included, but they all agree on the education of the whole person.
There are attempts to change the thinking that getting into a prestigious school or getting a good job should be the motivation for education. The alternative schools are the means of giving dreams and hope to our young people, and for the most part are meant for young people who find the present educational system unattractive and forbidding.
The editorial quotes from Pope Benedict's 2011 message to youth: "Dear young people, the Church depends on you! She needs your lively faith, your creative charity and the energy of your hope. Your presence renews, rejuvenates and gives new energy to the Church." And also from the same message: "True enough, it is important to have a job and thus to have firm ground beneath our feet, yet the years of our youth are also a time when we are seeking to get the most out of life. When I think back on that time, I remember above all that we were not willing to settle for a conventional middle-class life. We wanted something great, something new. We wanted to discover life itself, in all its grandeur and beauty."
The editorial ends with a plea that young people again begin to dream and hope, for this will also guarantee a bright future for the Church.