A fervor for education paid big post-war dividends for the Republic of Korea, but also spawned a private market that undermines public education and gave rise to the World Without Worries about Shadow Education (WWWSE) campaign to increase knowledge and decrease anxiety among students.
WWWSE was founded in 2008, its goal to strengthen public education by reducing reliance on private education. To strengthen public education, national policies would have to change; that could only happen if minds were changed. In six years’ time, WWWSE, or, for short, World Without Worries (WWW), changed many mindsets across the country, from towns to cities to provinces, and, finally, to the nation’s capital.
WWW began with a series of lectures and research papers about the negative effects of shadow education on the nation’s children, including the 40% of those aged 13 to 19 who in a government survey blamed suicidal thoughts on the premium attached to high grades and the CSAT pressure-cooker; and those aged 9 or above who in another government report rated their quality of life the lowest of those similarly aged across 31 of the world’s advanced nations.
In 2014, WWW’s efforts resulted in an achievement few would have imagined: the passage of a national law regulating “preceding education” – or education ahead of the proscribed schedule for learning in the public school curriculum. The law was aimed at ending one of shadow education’s most dramatic effects – almost 92% of students already know what will be taught in the public schools, by at least by one semester in advance and often times by many more semesters.