Some years ago, Saturday was just another school day for most of Korea's middle and high school students. Then, the government cut down to half-days on Saturday, and more recently to half-days on only the first, third and fifth Saturdays. At my school, these are club days.
"A five-day school week system will be introduced on a voluntary basis at all elementary, middle and high schools nationwide in earnest beginning with the 2012 school year,” the [Education, Science and Technology] ministry said.Since it is "voluntary", I'm not going to hold my breath. I am sure a great many mothers are unhappy about this, but at least schools will not fall down on their baby-sitting task: "child care classes will be conducted every Saturday for children whose parents both work".
Since schools have different educational environments for class, the ministry plans to require school steering committees to review the system and implement it on a voluntary basis.
In line with the expansion of the five-day workweek at companies in Korea, the five-day workweek for the entire population will start in full swing from next year.
On the other hand, hakwon owners will be happy, as each hour out of school is an hour potentially in academy classes. As the article describes:
The five-day school week system, however, has fueled fears over a hike in private tutoring expenses and lowering of academic performance.Whew! We can see they've thought it through quite thoroughly: a 4 month trial in one-tenth of schools is certain to iron out the kinks in a social change of enormous magnitude; this is not about shortening the school day by ten minutes, it's loosing 1.5 million children on the streets twice a month.
As such, the government will test the new system at 10 percent of elementary and middle schools from this year’s second half. The system will be operated on a trial basis at certain schools to make final check on side effects that could arise from the expansion of the five-day school week as well as countermeasures.
On the one hand, of course this is a positive move for the health and well-being of Korean children; but on the other hand, I do wish the-powers-that-be here would be a bit more circumspect in these kinds of undertakings.
But it doesn't actually impact me in any case: a) my school will no doubt opt to continue with Saturday school; and b) I don't work on Saturdays.