On February 17, Korean Education Minister Yoo Eun hye announced plan to introduce the high school credit system to all high schools from 2025 at Galmae high school. This system is one of President Moon Jae in's core educational pledges. In the current education policy of Korea, the issue is a high school credit system.
The high school credit system is a system in which students select and complete various subjects depending on their aptitude and career path. This is the same principle as the credit system implemented in universities. In 2020, it was first introduced to some Meister high schools, and in 2022 it will be introduced to some general high schools and specialized high schools, and in 2025, it will be introduced to all high schools. The Korea Ministry of Education said the biggest goal is to enable individual students to find their careers and aptitudes, and grow into self-directed talents through the high school credit system.
According to the training institute Teacherville, there are three main reasons why Korea needs a high school credit system. The first is the need to redefine high school identity due to a sharp drop in the educational population. In Korea, the school-age population is plummeting due to the low birthrate, and the closure of schools is accelerating every year. Teacherville said, "In this situation, talent is important. Therefore, schools should introduce the high school credit system, and train talent."
The Fourth Industrial Revolution also increased social demands for innovation in school curriculum. The education has already introduced AI (Artificial Intelligence) system at a narrative grading system and private education. In addition, some domestic high schools and CUK (Catholic University of Korea), have introduced AI-related subjects and lectures. In the online training broadcast for Teacherville, Seo Seung eok, a teacher at Seong Nam Financial High School, said “The introduction of a high school credit system is required to provide students with opportunities to develop competitiveness in these areas of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”
The public concern of education that respects all students is also achieved through the high school credit system. In the online training broadcast for Teacherville, Kwak Choong hoon, a teacher at Kyung An High School said that in the high school education system, students who have given up on one particular subject, such as math or English, are left unattended or those who do not have basic educational backgrounds cannot be guaranteed their right to study. Therefore, he said, “These problems are solved through the opportunity for students to choose a subject that fits their career path and level in the high school credit system.”
Meanwhile, some oppose the introduction of the system. Looking at the arguments against the system, it is concerned that the high school credit system will put a lot of pressure on teachers, which will reduce the quality of education due to increased administrative work. Seo Bong eon said in his research paper, “With the introduction of the high school credit system, teachers are said to be burdened by excessive workload and higher intensity than before.”
CUF (Catholic University of Forum) interviewed An Hyun hwa, a Korean language teacher at a high school to learn more about the problem of the high school credit system. In an interview, she said that while it is positive that students have expanded their choice of subjects, problems arise from some schools where the high school credit system is currently introduced. She said, “high school seniors take career-related courses they choose, but in fact, they are concentrated only on college entrance exams, so their credit classes are not going well.”
In most high schools in Korea, students are educated with the goal of taking college entrance exams. An, a Korean language teacher said, “If the high school credit system is introduced, students will be taught career electives when they are in high school seniors, but now they are concentrated in studying on entrance exams at school, so I wonder how much students will participate in the elective courses". Therefore, she said that to solve these problems, the college entrance system should also be changed in line with the high school credit system.
The high school credit system is already in place in advanced countries such as the United States, Canada, and France. In particular, in France, the high school credit system was introduced from July 18, 2018, and has been in effect for three years. CUF interviewed Lucie Ravaine, a CUK French exchange student, to find out the status of the French high school credit system. In an interview, she said “In France, people were not happy with this system for the first time. The problem was that high schools were not prepared for change, and everyone was used to the former system”. Also, she said, French teachers did not get any time to prepare, and the government did not give enough details.
Lucie said that three years later it was still a bit of a mess with Covid-19. However, she said, “it is getting better now that schools are providing as much information as possible to parents”. She also said that she did not experience the high school credit system, but her cousin who is a high school student looks happy because of lots of elective courses. She said at the end of the interview, "This new system is a good idea, but when I was in high school, I was not sure what I want to study in the university, so choosing one’s own subject at a young age could be a source of stress."
The high school credit system is an important education policy that changes the overall landscape of the education system. However, there seems to be much to improve before the high school credit system is implemented in 2025. According to Seo Bong eon’s research paper, “When the plan for the high school credit system was first announced, it was planned to be implemented nationwide in 2022, but it was delayed to three years later because there were many tasks to be preceded. Currently, the system is being promoted more actively, so I hope that the problems will be improved before the introduction of the system, and students and parents will be fully informed, and successfully implemented.