Municipal and provincial superintendents of education and relevant officials,
I am glad to meet you all. School facilities have also sustained much damage from the prolonged rainy season and downpours. At this time, schools must be busy with recovery work and preparations in the lead-up to the second semester. During the first semester, schools proved that they are safer than any other place by complying with epidemic prevention guidelines in an exemplary manner. This is the result of all stakeholders – teachers, students and parents – working together on high alert while prioritizing children’s health. I am truly grateful to all of them.
However, due to a recent surge in confirmed COVID-19 cases – particularly in the Seoul Metropolitan area – we are at a critical juncture that will determine the success or failure of our epidemic prevention and control efforts. Our goal has been to enable all students to attend in-person classes as soon as possible, but setbacks in achieving that goal seem to be unavoidable depending on the region or circumstances. Local school authorities must once again maintain a state of high alert. I hope you will make thorough preparations and reviews before the second semester starts. The Government will also do everything possible to support local schools’ efforts and to protect the health and safety of children.
We have to prepare for post-COVID-19 education while overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic together. It will be a new type of future education for a new Republic of Korea. The Korean New Deal, comprising the Digital New Deal and Green New Deal, is founded on mutual benefit and inclusiveness. In this vein, schools are one area where it should be applied first. My visit to Changdeok Girls’ Middle School today is the third of its kind in relation to the Korean New Deal, following visits to a digital data business and an offshore wind energy farm. Today, we will discuss the future of green smart schools empowered by the convergence of digital and green technologies.
Just a while ago, I observed smart math and science classes. I also looked around the tech center designed to provide systematic support for ICT education. As I look at this old school – over 40 years old – reborn as a green smart school, I can see the future that the Korean New Deal will bring to the field of education. Once again, I extend my gratitude to the municipal and provincial superintendents of education and school teachers for making steady preparations for the forward-looking Korean New Deal while initiating unfamiliar methods of education such as remote online classes at the national level.
Education is our children’s and our society’s future. The great transformation of the Republic of Korea also begins with schools. What empowers us to overcome COVID-19 is our willingness to put our neighbors first. The core value lying in the Korean New Deal is the spirit of mutual benefit. I hope our children, in the course of education, can truly appreciate the fact that putting others first ultimately serves our own interests.
Both in name and substance, green smart schools should become spaces to produce talented 21st century individuals in classrooms and in ways tailored to this century. I hope that everyone involved will work together to help green smart schools become in themselves great content, teaching materials and educational methods for building green and digital awareness as well as character.
The Green Smart School project is one of ten key tasks selected by the Government to represent the Korean New Deal. By 2025, we will transform more than 2,835 time-worn school buildings into high-tech spaces based on digital and eco-friendly features, thereby making integrated off- and online education available anytime, anywhere.
First, we will build a digital-based convergence education system with smart classrooms. Our country boasts unmatched, internationally competitive ICT and excellent teachers. By combining these capabilities, we will realize education in a new era that goes beyond the walls of classrooms, schools and the school system.
Second, we will ensure that green schools themselves serve as places and resources for environmental education. Zero-energy green schools will be put in place by utilizing solar power generation and eco-friendly building materials.
Third, we will make schools the first places to practice mutual benefit – allowing everyone equal digital access without any disparity, regardless of whom and where they are. In addition, by innovating school spaces to reflect future changes in the environment and local community demand, we will make them hubs linked to regional innovations.
To this end, the Government will make a bold investment totaling 18.5 trillion won by 2025. We will make green smart schools a foundation that fundamentally changes the methods and social role of education as well as the driving force for the great transformation of our local areas and country. I hope that the superintendents of municipal and provincial education offices will take the lead in the journey toward a future Republic of Korea to be ushered in by forward-looking education and schools. I also hope that our people will join forces.
Our people’s mature civic consciousness originates from our teachers’ warm hearts and sense of duty. You must have a lot of work to do for new classes in the new semester. In this regard, I truly feel sorry that you have had to assume additional roles to aid with flood recovery and the prevention of a second wave of COVID-19. The Government will pay more meticulous attention to keep schools safe. Let us overcome the crisis we face together by taking on a new challenge.