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

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

The 43 college students who’ve signed on up to now are among the many 370 or so who took the exams Nov. 16 at a highschool in Seoul. During 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 a substitute 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 referred to as the Suneung is a severe matter.

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

On check day, often in November, airports halt takeoffs to cut back noise in order that tens of 1000’s nationwide can concentrate on their half-hour English listening exams. Offices delay the beginning of labor to clear morning site visitors for college kids speeding to their check websites. The army draft board takes a break day. 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 embrace Korean, English, math, Korean historical past and science.

In the weeks main as much as the check, college students take pains to eat and sleep proper, like athletes earlier than an enormous recreation. Mental breakdowns through the check are usually not extraordinary, and getting sick in between topics is widespread.

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

But why all of the Suneung stress?

If college students botch the check, they need to wait a complete yr to retake it, including extra strain to carry out. Only highschool seniors or highschool graduates can take the examination.

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

Small test-score variations, in the meantime, usually decide how prestigious a school a scholar can attend. Going to a high faculty means higher lifetime wages, in accordance with a number of research. A research revealed by the Korean Economic Association 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 getting ready for the Suneung examination, Kim says.

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

Officials gave the scholars an additional 90 seconds throughout lunch time to fill in clean reply sheets however didn’t allow them to vary already filled-in marks. That didn’t assist college students who made a final sprint to mark remaining questions in a straight row slightly 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.