School Reform for Multicultural Society in South Korea
- Insil ChangInsil ChangGyeongin National University of Education
- and Lydia Harim AhnLydia Harim AhnUniversity of Maryland, Department of Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education
The advancement of globalization around the world shifted South Korea’s rapid change into a multicultural society. As a result, the characteristically homogenous school environment in Korea has seen an increase in students from diverse cultural backgrounds. Currently, the total number of multicultural students is 109,387 (1.9%), a large comparative shift from previously when there were solely Korean students in classrooms. In addition, multicultural areas with schools where over 50% of students are multicultural are increasing in Korea. However, because of the national curriculum guidelines in Korea, all classrooms operate in the same way regardless of student backgrounds. The language barrier and other cultural differences pose difficulties for multicultural students to keep up in coursework.
Overall, schools that are accustomed to the traditional national curriculum have difficulties in school reform regardless of the changes in student demographics ratio. However, in an endeavor for school reform, the Gyeonggi Provincial Office of Education has designated for school reform multicultural international innovation schools where multicultural students make up over 30% of the students. These schools have at least 50% autonomy in curricula, whereas other Korean schools have to follow the national school curricula. There are three elementary school curricula designed as multicultural international innovation schools in Gyeonggi-do. This article examines school reform in a multicultural society by focusing on how three primary schools are designated as multicultural international reform schools.