Seoul's new education chief on Tuesday called for reforms that would reduce the test burden for students so they can have more time to carefully think about their life's goals and future jobs.
In an interview with Yonhap News Agency, Moon Yong-lin, who won the by-election for the post last week, said the measures will be implemented gradually for first year middle school students starting in early 2013.
"The program will first be employed at a handful of schools from February onward," Moon, 65, said. He said with students taking fewer tests, they will have more time to experience various jobs and contemplate what they will do for the rest of their lives.
He said reducing the test burden will be carried out in a gradual manner to reduce any side effects.
"How this is carried out will be decided by the principal of each school," the former education minister and university professor said.
On concerns that cutting back on tests will adversely affect the scholastic ability of students, Moon countered that allowing middle schoolers to build up their dreams can actually benefit them in the long run, and give them incentive to study more.
The educator, meanwhile, said that he will put on hold so-called innovation school policies pursued by former school superintendent Kwak No-hyun until a more detailed assessment can be made about such schools.
Moon has claimed that the innovation schools are hotbeds for teachers belonging to the progressive Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union. The new education chief said he wants to curb the union's influence.
The official added that there will be no disruptions in offering free lunches to all middle school students by 2014, although there may be a need to better handle the distribution of financial resources.
Moon beat out liberal candidate Lee Su-ho for the capital city's top educator post in a by-election after Kwak was stripped of his post in September due to a bribery conviction. (Yonhap)