It is considered normal to spend 12 years at school before entering a university. However, there are students who drop out of school and take a school qualification exam, the so-called the Korean General Equivalency Diploma (KGED), to catch up with the regular school curriculum. Even though the KGED is regarded as unconventional, it is an important means of education for dropouts. Meanwhile, an objection towards the testing period of the KGED was raised last February.
KGED is a test that provides certification that the test taker has the academic skill equivalent to that of other graduates. It is held twice a year every April and August. However, as the test registration period approached in 2019, the applicants in Gyeonggi Province raised objection to the testing period of the KGED. They demanded that the test date should be moved earlier so that the dropouts would also be able to start their new semester with other students.
According to the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family (MGEF), 76 percent of dropouts in Korea prepare for the KGED to continue their studies. Putting aside that they have not been attending school so far, the very first test date of the KGED forces them to enroll in the second semester. While most freshmen find it difficult and nervous to adapt to a new environment in the beginning of the semester, dropouts find it even more difficult to get along with other students. According to an awardee of the prize given to exemplary young men by the Seoul Metropolitan Government every year, he had trouble adapting to school. Although he eventually coped with the situation well, it was hard for him to get used to a new high school life at the age of eighteen.
Some may argue that taking the KGED in August can be a solution. However, in the case of the KGED for high school, the applicant should be dismissed from school at least six months before the date of the examination is announced. Therefore, when the applicant takes the exam in August, there is a hiatus longer than a year which is very inefficient. Furthermore, if the applicant wishes to attend university, taking the test in August can be tight in that the application period for universities usually starts as soon as the fall semester begins. Thus, the time period of the KGED should be fully adjusted for the applicants’ convenience to January or February before the new semester begins.
Meanwhile, this matter has not aroused much attention. Only one article from online local media dealt with this issue, introducing the agony of the dropouts. It is necessary for the officials of the KGED to pay attention to the comments given by the applicants in that every test exists for the good of the applicants. However, the Gyeonggi Provincial Office of Education (GPOE) have announced that it will discuss countermeasures, but swift action has not been made so far. Not only the GPOE but other offices of education should also gather to further discuss the matter.
The KGED aims to foster students to return to school and help them adjust to school. However, under the current structure, the ministry should reconsider whether they are making students maladjusted. Thus, it should respond to the demands given by the applicants. The adjustment of the test period is essential in terms of adapting to a new school and preparing to set foot into a university. The suggestion was made by the applicants for their brighter future and, therefore, should be considered thoroughly. Stronger measures and more active measures from the offices of education should be the starting point to improve the educational system.