YES! Special Needs Programs Expanded!!!

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This article, Special-Needs Kids Get More Education Benefits, in the Korea Times actually made me want to pump my fist in the air. Until the newest legislation, parents had to choose to apply for special needs programs for their kids. Nearly every single expat teacher I’ve ever talked to has spoken about the frustration of having a serious special needs kid in an already over large class. Often, we are not informed about it in advance and it might take a couple of months to realize that the kid doesn’t just have trouble with learning English– they have trouble with learning period.

This article, Special-Needs Kids Get More Education Benefits, in the Korea Times actually made me want to pump my fist in the air. Until the newest legislation, parents had to choose to apply for special needs programs for their kids. Nearly every single expat teacher I’ve ever talked to has spoken about the frustration of having a serious special needs kid in an already over large class. Often, we are not informed about it in advance and it might take a couple of months to realize that the kid doesn’t just have trouble with learning English– they have trouble with learning period. When the expat approaches their co-teacher or administrator they are usually told something along the lines of ‘oh yes, that child has ___ issue but the parent refuses to deal with it.’ There is a huge stigma for parents involved in putting your child into a special needs program or school and most seem to refuse to do it and instead ignore the problem. The issue with this is that many mentally disabled students (I’m not sure what the most up to date PC term is, bare with me here) can be functioning, independent members of society—if and only if they are given appropriate education and attention from a very young age. If the parent chooses to ignore the problem they are most likely dooming the child to being a dependent for the rest of their life.

Anyways, the new rules from the education ministry has changed things. Principals, not parents will be given the power to place students in special programs. Kindergarten and high school will be mandatory for special needs students and not be a choice for the parent. I know that this will be a huge headache for school administrators since Korean mothers are fiercer than any other breed I’ve encountered when it comes to their children’s education but it will be worth it. Today, I’m actually a bit proud of Korea for making a socially responsible, progressive change. I hope that it works out well.



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