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Posted : 2013-06-19 19:25
Updated : 2013-06-19 19:25

Beefing up early childhood education

Children play together during an outdoor class at a nursery school affiliated with Sookmyung Women's University in Yongsan-gu, Seoul. The university seeks to set a new model for early childhood education by establishing nursery and kindergarten programs in an apartment complex in Gimpo, Gyeonggi Province.
/ Courtesy of Sookmyung Women's University


Chung Sun-ah, child education professor at Sookmyung Women's University
By Bahk Eun-ji

Sookmyung Women's University is seeking to set a new model for early childhood education by integrating nursery and kindergarten programs.

To do this, the school has decided to run childcare facilities in an apartment complex in Gimpo, Gyeonggi Province.

It has also signed an agreement with Dawoo Engineering and Construction and Dongbu Corp. to provide such services in Prugio and Centreville apartments, which are popular housing complexes located nationwide.

"Our school has been boasting of its quality early childhood education and we've also been focusing on how to nurture students' creativity and personality," said Chung Sun-ah, a professor at the university's child welfare and studies division.

"I believe we will provide an adequate model for others by taking advantage of our accumulated experience," she said. She is currently serving as the head of the university's nursery school; and studied child welfare and psychology at Sookmyung and Harvard University.

Chung believes a child welfare system is most important to secure and promote the rights of children.

"The university is known for its 40-year history of child welfare studies since 1972. Despite its reputation, the size of the nursery school was relatively small. We were looking for adequate places and partners who could work with us and it is a great chance for the two companies and us," she added.

Chung said she has great expectations of the nursery school to be built in Gimpo, explaining that the university will run it for the children as she has taught her students.

In Korea, parents and teachers usually decide what to teach their children without asking their opinions. They readily believe they know better and make better decisions.

"What is special about the programs we will offer is they require the child's participation. Even one-year-old babies are able to express what they want in a way and our goal is to respect that," Chung said.

She wants to give children the right to self-representation and participation in what and how they want to be taught.

This method and theory have gained academic recognition about its effectiveness but it is hard to put it into practice in the education field.

"A teacher's competence is most important. In other words, how teachers are prepared to run the class is important. And they can also learn from their students when they try to meet what they want to learn," Chung said.

The nursery school in Gimpo will be the best place to realize the program for teachers as well as children, Chung noted.

"The school will be for the children, not just for working mothers and it will hopefully provide a momentum for change in the early child education system," Chung said.


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