The Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has undergone regular assessment and reform since its beginnings in the 1950’s. As the Republic of Korea’s democracy has strengthened and its economy grown, the Ministry of Education has scrutinized its former systems and proposed reforms to meet the demands of a globalizing world.
Interestingly, according to the UNESCO World Data on Education, in its 2006/2007 revision of the Principles and General Objectives of Education, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology placed Hongik ingan, a philosophy that promotes “living for the benefit of humanity,” as a touchstone for their educational goals for raising well-educated citizens. Hongik igan can be traced back to ancient Korea, prior to the current division of the people,
Among the characteristics that the Ministry of Education outlines for a model citizen are:
- A person who seeks to develop his or her own individuality through a well-rounded and wholesome character development
- A person whose values are firmly grounded on a sound understanding of the national culture
- A person with the help of well-established, participatory democracy, who contributes to the development of the community he or she resides in.
The general reform seeks to provide life-long learning opportunities for all citizens, including its growing multi-cultural populations, and is driven by the desire to develop a force of human resources that will benefit not only the Korean economy and society, but make Korea a “leader in the world history in spiritual as well as material terms.”
Granted the work to meet 21st-centry demands is an ongoing task, but the aspirations widen the scope of reform, opening the door to explore new systems and approaches guided by higher ideals.