Some 40 faculty members and students from Democracy Prep Public Charter Schools (DPPS) are in Seoul for a two-week trip through Wednesday to have chances to learn the Korean language and culture, just as they did at their schools.
Inspired by the Korean education system after having taught English in the Asian country for one year, Seth Andrew established the DPPS network in Harlem in 2006 and currently operates seven schools in New York.
The schools have been in the spotlight for their outstanding academic performance, with parents having enthusiastically enrolled their children in the charter schools, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg hailing their success, according to local media.
All students, mostly Latinos and African-Americans, are required to learn Korean language as a mandatory class, and they also do club activities related in Korean culture, such as Korean traditional dance and folk songs, or Taekwondo, through which they can learn "the core values of discipline, respect and enthusiasm," according to a school official.
Education Minister Lee Ju-ho (3rd from R) poses for a picture with a group of teachers and students from Democracy Prep Public Charter Schools in the U.S. on Nov. 20. 2012 in Seoul. (Yonhap)
During a meeting on Tuesday, South Korea's education minister Lee Ju-ho and the DPPS members exchanged views on "the secrets behind the successful Korean system and the personality education which Seoul has put an emphasis on in recent days," the education ministry official said.
"I hope South Korea's enthusiasm for education will give hope to low-income families in the U.S.," Andrew was quoted as saying by the education ministry.
"By proving that students -- regardless of what zip code they are born into -- can perform at high academic levels, we seek to transform not only the lives of the students at Democracy Prep but also the expectation of what public schools can achieve," the school said on its Web site.