U.S. President Barack Obama Tuesday called for the United States to look to South Korea in adopting longer school days and after-school programs for American children to help them survive in an era of keen global competition, according to Yonhap News Agency Wednesday.
"Our children _ listen to this _ our children spend over a month less in school than children in South Korea every year," Obama told a gathering at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce here. "That's no way to prepare them for a 21st-century economy."
Obama made the remarks while emphasizing the need for sweeping reform of the U.S. education system for which he earmarked $41 billion out of the $787 billion stimulus package to cope with the worst recession in decades.
"We can no longer afford an academic calendar designed for when America was a nation of farmers who needed their children at home plowing the land at the end of each day," he said. "That calendar may have once made sense, but today it puts us at a competitive disadvantage."
The U.S. president called for Americans "not only to expand effective after-school programs but to rethink the school day to incorporate more time, whether it's during the summer or through expanded-day programs for children who need it."
Obama's remarks came as a surprise to many South Koreans as the country's education system has been under constant public criticism due to its lack of creativity and heavy dependence on private tutoring.