Schools Starting Later in Gyeonggi-do, Parents in Uproar

Article from Yonhap News :

Safety Concerns as Classes Finish after Sunset: A School Hours Dilemma.

Photo of a revised school schedule reflecting newly implemented later start times.

Photo of a revised school schedule reflecting newly implemented later start times.

Since Gyeonggi-do public schools have implemented a 9 o’clock school start time, more parents worry about their children’s safety going home from school.

Since the start time is later, all classes have been bumped to a later time slot. With the changing season, sunset is gradually becoming earlier.[The parents say] the way home from school is too dark.

Some are pointing out the flaws in the plan with the objective to “offer more free time and ensure enough sleep for students.”

“A” high school in Suwon implemented superintendent Lee Jae-jeong’s 9 o’clock school time policy from September 1st.

The school start time has been pushed back nearly 1 hour and 30 minutes, from 7:30 or 7:40 a.m. to 9:20 a.m.

The end of school hours have also been pushed back.

Sophomores and Juniors, who have 7 classes, finish school at 5:00 p.m. However for Seniors, who have 8 classes daily, classes do not finish until 6:20 p.m.

For high school seniors, classes are let out later compared to underclassmen in order to allow enough class time to prepare for the college entrance examinations.

As of the 14th, sunset is occurring at 6:42 p.m., and at the end of September it will set as early as 6:20 p.m.

In October and November, sunset is about 1 hour earlier at 5 p.m.

Thus, starting in October, at schools with similar schedules to “A” High School, students will be going home from school after the sun sets.

Jeong, the 47-year-old parent of a junior in high school points out that, “I understand how changing the school start time to 9 o’clock was done for the students’ benefit, but it has just in effect delayed classes that are still the same length of time.”

A teacher from one high school said, “This policy was enacted so that students can get more sleep and free time. But somehow this ends up makes middle and high school students’ schedules more tight.”

Graphic showing results of a study: 73.9% of students,  56.4% of parents, and 61.2% of teachers support changing the school starting time to 9 o'clock.

Graphic showing results of a study: 73.9% of students, 56.4% of parents, and 61.2% of teachers support changing the school starting time to 9 o’clock.

Some schools that originally agreed to the 9 o’clock start time have quietly refrained from implementing it.

One middle school in Hwaseong has set up a plan but is yet to implement the new school hours. The school is located in an area far from the main road. If school were to start later, there could be some major safety concerns, so many parents are against the 9 o’clock start time.

Classes already finish after 5 p.m., so if the new hours were implemented, school would finish 30-40 minutes later. This means that in the winter months of November through January, there could be safety issues for the students.

Gyeonggi-do Office of Education after considering this issue of the difference in summer and winter seasons, said that the schools could implement a 9 o’clock start time, and has followed up with no concrete measures.

In reality, it is considered too difficult to have separate schedules for summer and winter months.

The Office of Education plans to continue the 9 o’clock start time, and after evaluating its first month of implementation, give recommendations for revision to the policy starting with the dilemma caused by the [early sunsets in the] winter months.

Comments from Naver :


They’ll make the students stay at school and study till ten o’clock anyway. They’re just pretending to care about the students’ safety after sunset.


So then why was it safe to go to school before sunrise?


Honestly the amount of time spent at school is too long compared to other advanced countries. I think the amount of time in school needs to be shorter.


At regular academic high schools, being at school past sunset is just natural. Why all this worry as if this is something new…


It’s only those ajumma who are obsessed with private classes saying if there were fewer classes it would be great.


How did they do it before the 9 o’clock start time was implemented, afraid of night study?


So you’re saying that in the dark winter mornings it is safe to go to school? Not really an excuse.


That’s nothing, you’re just making things up. Right, don’t send your kids to hagwon [private after-school academies] and don’t go to school in the early morning either.


Reporter and Yonhap News Desk, weren’t you embarrassed a little when you uploaded this article?… Even on a normal day because of study hall students are going home from school after ten at night.. ^^


Seniors in high school are either doing night study at school or at hagwon anyway so they are going home at 10 or 11 at night. What is all of this about the sun setting? Are there even any high school students returning home after classes end?

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  • Chucky3176

    Oh please… all the parents care about is the reduced time for their kids to attend after school hagwon classes. This is a good ideal. It’s couple of more hours taken away from students having to go to private schools, and instead giving them couple of hours more to sleep. I don’t know anyone have noticed the fact that Korean kids are not growing as taller as they used to in the last few years. The average height growth rate numbers have plateaued off considerably with more junk food, lack of sleep, and lack of exercise.

    • 금정산

      That’s exactly right. The parents aren’t really concerned about safety; they are concerned about perceived a loss in competitive advantage.

      • Chucky3176

        I don’t see any competitive disadvantage when everyone is starting at the same time. Everyone is on equal footing here, their complaints don’t make any sense.

        • 금정산

          Education in South Korea is one big competition of life. Sending your children to school and then private schooling for as many hours of the day as possible isn’t about learning to be knowledgeable or resourceful – it’s just to be more competitive in earning a place at the best universities for a better quality of life. Less hours studying in comparison to other provinces is perceived as a disadvantage.

          This school hour change only applies to Gyeonggi. A big reason for people to move to that province, and in particular Seoul satellite cities, is for a better education. Now the pedestal between Gyeonggi and other provinces is being lowered.

          And if parents can pressure their school to start and finish earlier like the Hwaseong example, this gives them the perceived advantage over schools which follow these changes.

          • Chucky3176

            OK, I missed the “Gyonggido only” part.

  • crxrunn

    They can jumble around the start and end times but the students will still end up in hagwons until late into the night anyways. To truly bring about reform you’d need to change the entire system, including university entrance requirements and the high school exit exam, which I don’t see happening any time soon.

  • commander

    It is a profound irony that some of the parents, who are supposed to be guardians of their children, voice objection against the new rule to secure enough sleep for high school students who are constantly under academic pressure and suffer sleep deprivation at all times.

    Don’t those parents want to quench their vicarious satisfaction by driving their children into high gear to get a slot on a prestigious university?

    But we all know that even if the new measure to push back school start time by one hour is retracted, high school students, who have to go to the private education institute of hagwon after school come back home burned out after the night already descends.

  • star

    I still don’t see the logic in not giving kids enough time to sleep and do other activities outside of school. How can you learn or remember anything if you’re constantly tired and stressed. I would not have passed my university entrance exam if I had slept 4-5 hours a day and went to school from sunrise ’till sunset.

    • Name

      Students can sleep during the day while they’re in public school classrooms. The real studying happens during nights in private schools.

    • WannabeXenophile

      So friggin; true! Academic pursuits aren’t the be all and end all – what about socially? There needs to be a balance. One only needs to watch docs such as Child Genius to see some of the results of pushy parenting and hothoused kids.

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