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Deprived kids learn skills at 'school' camp

2012/02/25 | 177 views |  | Permalink | Source

Children let off balloons containing their wishes at a groundbreaking ceremony in Yangpyeong County, Gyeonggi, yesterday. Provided by the company

Come this May, a shuttered school in Yangpyeong County, Gyeonggi, will come back to life by offering camps and activities to teach underprivileged children lessons that cannot be gleaned from textbooks or laboratory experiments.

A group of Korean companies, including KT, Korea's No.1 fixed-line operator and its No. 2 mobile carrier, held a groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday at the school in Yangdong Township.

For the next two to three months, workers will renovate the premises and transform the facility to what the companies are tentatively dubbing a "Vision Center". It will host camps that run for three to four days and invite 100,000 children from underprivileged and impoverished families to attend free of charge.

At the so-called "Vision Camps", the children will grow vegetables and fruit, learn crafts, go camping, and develop important social skills. KT also plans to invite them to its Olleh Square in Gwanghwamun, central Seoul, a showroom and cultural zone where they will get to experience Korea's advanced IT infrastructure.

Meanwhile, Maeil Dairy will give them a tour of one of its factories and Hana Tour will teach them about the cultures and traditions of different countries.

In Korea, the dwindling birthrate has forced many schools to close, and the situation is far worse in rural areas than in urban centers. Many parents in farming or fishing communities move to cities to give their offspring better educational opportunities.

And as issues of bullying and teenage crime rattle the country, pundits have criticized the way in which Korea's education system is so focused on grades while neglecting character building and the development of people skills.

By Kim Hyung-eun [[email protected]]

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