Thursday, June 13, 2024

S. Korean college students file lawsuit after Suneung examination ends 1 minute early

SEOUL — Dozens of scholars in South Korea have filed a lawsuit in opposition to the federal government after a proctor for this yr’s high-stakes faculty entrance examination ended their check one minute early. They’re asking for about $15,000 every in damages.

The 43 college students who’ve signed on to this point are among the many 370 or so who took the exams Nov. 16 at a highschool in Seoul. Through the Korean language and literature session, the alarm ending the 80-minute check rang 60 seconds early as a result of a check administrator mistakenly thought there was one second remaining as an alternative of 1 minute.

The incident “is a preposterous mistake” that should not be repeated, the scholars’ lawyer, Kim Woosuk, mentioned in a information launch this week.

In South Korea, the annual examination often called the Suneung is a critical matter.

Many college students spend most of highschool — and 1000’s of {dollars} a yr — making ready for the extremely aggressive examination. 13-hour days spent totally on lecturers and check prep that finish at 10 p.m. are usually not unusual. Hiring personal tutors or going to costly after-school prep academies often called hagwons is the norm.

On check day, normally in November, airports halt takeoffs to cut back noise in order that tens of 1000’s nationwide can give attention to their half-hour English listening exams. Places of work delay the beginning of labor to clear morning site visitors for college students speeding to their check websites. The army draft board takes a time without work. The inventory market opens an hour later.

The check itself is a grueling nine-hour battle, which features a 50-minute lunch break and some 20-minute toilet breaks in between topics that embody Korean, English, math, Korean historical past and science.

Within the weeks main as much as the check, college students take pains to eat and sleep proper, like athletes earlier than a giant recreation. Psychological breakdowns throughout the check are usually not unparalleled, and getting sick in between topics is frequent.

Kwon Ji-sook, 52, the mom of 1 pupil, mentioned her son had made a behavior of consuming a vegetable-focused food regimen within the months earlier than the examination and had practiced with analog watches for a yr as a result of digital units aren’t allowed at check websites. All that coaching was upended by the proctor’s mistake, she lamented in a cellphone interview.

However why all of the Suneung stress?

If college students botch the check, they need to wait an entire yr to retake it, including extra stress to carry out. Solely highschool seniors or highschool graduates can take the examination.

South Korea’s college entrance exams have been annoying sufficient. Then a pandemic arrived.

Small test-score variations, in the meantime, usually decide how prestigious a university a pupil can attend. Going to a prime college means higher lifetime wages, in accordance with a number of research. A examine revealed by the Korean Financial Affiliation this yr mentioned top-tier faculty graduates made 24.6 % extra of their first jobs than the graduates of the lowest-tier faculties and as a lot as 50 % extra of their early 40s.

The roughly $15,000 that Kim’s shoppers are asking for is the estimated value of spending one other yr making ready for the Suneung examination, Kim says.

An official on the Seoul Metropolitan Workplace of Training, who spoke on the situation of anonymity to freely focus on the matter, acknowledged that there had been a mistake and mentioned the administrator answerable for the blunder had been given a written reprimand.

Officers gave the scholars an additional 90 seconds throughout lunch time to fill in clean reply sheets however didn’t allow them to alter already filled-in marks. That didn’t assist college students who made a final sprint to mark remaining questions in a straight row moderately than depart them clean, Kim mentioned.

This isn’t the primary time check directors have jumped the gun. In 2020, a supervisor ended a Suneung topic check three minutes early, triggering a lawsuit. An appellate court docket awarded every of the eight college students $5,300 in damages this yr.

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