Walking on the streets of Seoul, South Korea, many of the usual big-city sights and sounds might be hard to find.
There’s no garbage littering the city’s streets or graffiti on its walls.
There are almost no horns honking despite the heavy traffic.
And there are no children to be seen. But where were they?
Seoul’s lack of children on the streets might be explained by the school schedule. Classes typically last from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and are followed by supplementary tutoring classes that can last until 10 p.m.
Al Persenaire, Educational Care Coordinator, and other Christian Reformed World Missionsrepresentatives, recently met with several South Korean school officials and administrators to begin forming a local leadership team that will implement Educational Care (EC) training in Christian schools.
Educational Care (EC) is a learning program that encourages and assists educators and schools with limited resources by giving them an opportunity to develop skills and strategies of education.
“South Korea seems to be a country living in paradox,” said Persenaire. “On the one hand, it seems to be the envy of many countries with respect to economic health, high education test scores, and spiritual fervor.
“The flip side is that its young people and their parents are concerned with juvenile delinquency, the incredible competition and the tremendous amount of time spent in the classroom.”
Many of the school administrators that Persenaire met with want to address these issues, but political and societal pressures make this difficult. This is where EC modules can help.
“On their own, the workshops themselves will not solve problems,” said Persenaire. “What they will do is provide a vehicle for educators to interact with other teachers and schools to meet and have guided discussions.”
Persenaire also noted the potential for Educational Care training to serve future South Korean missionaries.
“Missionaries from South Korean churches often go to ‘difficult to reach’ Islamic countries to minister. They often start biblically based schools as an evangelical tool.”
Christian Reformed World Missions will appoint a local leadership team to coordinate EC in South Korea in March 2015. These leaders will receive training and begin working alongside teachers during school breaks.
The Educational Care team will also meet with educators in Egypt later this month to see how EC might benefit educators in Egypt in their local context.