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   Schools to enhance security education
   3849    2009-01-20
Source : Joongang Daily

January 15, 2009

Seoul schools will emphasize North Korea's security threat in education on inter-Korean ties which government officials accuse of focusing excessively on reconciliation and solidarity.

Seoul City education authorities said yesterday it has earmarked a budget of 50 million won ($37,171) to produce and supply new educational materials on national reunification to elementary and middle schools this year.

"School education on inter-Korean relations and unification so far has lacked a sense of national security," said an official of the metropolitan education administration.

"Considering the actual circumstances surrounding the Korean Peninsular, we will develop educational programs with a balance between unification and national security."

Examples of such programs would be field trips to the Peace Observatory and the navy headquarters to learn about the naval clash with the North in 2002 that killed six South Korean soldiers in the West Sea.

Students in recent years were often taken to Mt. Geumgang just north of the inter-Korean border to paint posters or write essays about unification, but not any more.

The city education authorities' move follows that of the Education Ministry.

The Education Ministry recently revised the guidelines for a new middle school civics textbook to refrain from favorable descriptions of the North and cut down on peace education.

Some criticize the move as a return to Cold War-era security education at a time when schools should be promoting better understanding of the North and a vision for unification.

"There have been claims that peace education under the former administration had gone overboard, but (the authorities) are rushing to bolster security education as if we have been disarmed," said Park Chan-seok, professor at Gongju National University of Education.

"I hope they're not trying to revive anti-communist education."

Schools in Seoul will also strengthen history education to raise awareness of sovereignty regarding the Dokdo Islets and China's history distortion.

Seoul City's education authorities plan to develop teaching materials on Dokdo and arrange students and teachers' trips to the disputed islets in the East Sea. The metropolitan office of education will also hold a training session for 200 history teachers to help them deal with history distortion from neighboring countries.

By Kim So-hyun

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