According to ‘The 2016 World Happiness Report’ of UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), the happiness index of South Korea is 5.835, ranking 58th in the world. In just one year, the nation has fallen significantly from 2015’s global ranking of 47.
SDSN has been producing the happiness index of 157 countries since 2012 by evaluating the GDP (Gross Domestic Product), life expectancy, and transparency of government and companies of each country. It also reflects emotional factors, such as whether people have someone whom they can rest on when in trouble.
Meanwhile, the abortion rating of Korea is ranked No.1 among OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries. Surprisingly, it is higher in married women than single mothers. Raising more than two children burdens Korean parents financially, although the government operates a variety of policies encouraging married couples to give birth. Experts analyze that this results from excessive child rearing and private education expenses. In addition, it is due to the structure of labor, which is difficult to parallel working with home life.
When children go to kindergarten, they start a fierce competition for admission to prominent universities. We often hear about some students’ suicides that result from being disappointed with their grades from the entrance examinations.
This social phenomenon is due to an abnormal education system in which almost all students devote themselves to the entrance examinations, rather than developing their unique talents.
According to OECD, to make matters worse, the subjective happiness that children and teenagers feel has been reported as the lowest for the past five years. A group of professors led by Yoo Sik Yeum in Yonsei University research institute for social development published a report on ‘The 8th international comparison of children and teenagers’ happiness index’. It contains the report mentioned above.
It especially shows that Korean children and teenagers are unfortunate because one of five students answered that they had felt like committing suicide.
Mr.Kim, a junior of high school, said “I have lots of things to study for school as well as for private educational institute. Those are too much for me.” He added, “But I have been enduring those for my parents, who work very hard until late night.”
Eventually, countries with higher life satisfaction indexes have a common characteristic in educational systems that focus on the development of individual students and provide them opportunities to discover their aptitudes by themselves through the education they need.
So perhaps it is time to restructure the education system so that students can map out their career paths and customize their own schooling.