LONDON – The kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls in northern Nigeria by the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram is beyond outrageous. Sadly, it is just the latest battle in a savage war being waged against the fundamental right of all children to an education. That war is global, as similarly horrifying incidents in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Somalia attest.
Around the world, there have been 10,000 violent attacks on schools and universities in the past four years, according to a report by the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack. The evidence is as ample as it is harrowing, from the 29 schoolboys killed by suspected Boko Haram militants in the Nigerian state of Yobe earlier this year and Somali schoolchildren forced to become soldiers to Muslim boys attacked by ethnic Burmese/Buddhist nationalists in Myanmar and schoolgirls in Afghanistan and Pakistan who have been firebombed, shot, or poisoned by the Taliban for daring to seek an education.
[South Korea] The National Assembly on Thursday passed a bill that aims to prevent Korean students from taking school courses beyond their regular academic schedule.
Rep. Kang Eun-hee of the Saenuri Party, who proposed the bill with Rep. Lee Sang-min of the Democratic Party, said Korean students are often forced to study subjects for subsequent semesters in advance at school or private institutes, known as hagwon. The widespread practice, even involving elementary school students, is meant to boost their chances for admission to elite schools.
The excessive competition leads to more difficult entrance exams by higher level education institutes, which in turn pushes students to study more courses in advance. Rep. Kang said the practice is a main factor driving up the already heated private education system in Korea, spawning a profitable market valued at 19.4 trillion won ($17.9 billion) per year.