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21.2.10 mantra for South Korean educators has been to tout creativity as the most important quality for the 21st century education. Reality, however, is starkly different, according to Chosun Ilbo Saturday.

Korean students still spend most of their study for rote memorization, while companies complain that new recruits lack problem-solving abilities.

The fundamental problem lies in that school tests are still based on multiple-choice questions that prompt students to choose the "right" answer from the preset choices, dampening their creativity to solve unforeseen problems as adults encounter in their real life.

The newspaper said it conducted a random survey at 16 middle schools and analyzed their final exam questions for the Korean literature section. Only three schools (19 percent) offered open-ended questions 30 percent and more in the exam, while 25 percent of the surveyed schools didn't offer any questions that require descriptive answers at all.

In the social studies section, 31 percent of the surveyed didn't offer any open-ended questions. Even those who offered open-ended questions, they mostly consisted of less than 30 percent of the total number of questions.

Teachers have their own dilemma as well. They say the reason they feel compelled to offer multiple-choice questions primarily in the exams is to maintain "fairness" of the exam.

"If I give open-ended essay exams, there are always students and parents who protest on the way it is graded," an unnamed teacher told the newspaper.


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