December 03, 2019 13:59
One out of 10 middle school students understand less than 20 percent of the science subjects they are taught at school, according to a survey highlighting the chronic malaise of Korea's public education system.
The survey, by the Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation, shows that 11.5 percent of ninth-graders flunked science subjects last year, almost doubling from around six percent a year since 2015. Fewer than 50 percent understood more than half of what was taught in science classes.
The Education Ministry discloses the average academic levels of high school and middle school students in key subjects like Korean, English and math. After this year's evaluation, the ministry for the first time disclosed their levels in science subjects, most of which have been somewhat disregarded since they have not been mandatory on the college entrance exam since 2005.
Education experts are alarmed, saying the dismal state of science education needs to be addressed quickly.
Academic achievement was assessed in four categories: excellent (understands more than 80 percent of subjects), average (understands between 50 to 80 percent), standard (understands between 20 to 50 percent) and substandard (understands less than 20 percent). Some 53 percent of ninth graders surveyed were rated standard or substandard.
When it came to Korean classes, by contrast, only 18 percent were underachievers, and the proportion was also much lower for math (37.7 percent) and English (34.2 percent).
Another problem is the declining proportion of students who excel in science, which has halved from 10.9 percent in 2015 to a measly 5.3 percent. Experts say this is due to the majority focusing their studies on English and math.
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