Friday, August 30, 2013

[News Article] Brain Education in El Salvador (English Translation)

Korean-Meditation Heals Students Made Outlaws by Civil War

The school in the video shown by Gloria Mueller (47) – principal of Joaquin Rodezno School in San Salvador, capital of El Salvador – resembled a reformatory with a riot progress. The walls of the school building were covered in vulgar graffiti drawn by gang-affiliated students. Lower-grade students tremble because of upper-grade students, who are insensitive to violence, and police are regularly dispatched to the school. Disheartened by students high on marijuana, teachers go through the motions of holding class as they try not to offend their students. The scenes were filmed two years before by publicly owned media in El Salvador.

As Brain Education programs were introduced to the school in 2012 with the support of the Korean Ministry of Education, however, the situation changed 180 degrees. Visiting Korea to announce the results of Korean educational aid, Principal Mueller said, "In El Salvador, the economy and public security have collapsed due to a long civil war, and, having lost their dreams, children are immersed in drugs or join gangs, but we have seen new hope thanks to help from Korea."

"Korea's Brain Education is changing the entire field of education in El Salvador, as well as Joaquin Rodezno students," said Principal Gloria Mueller, whom we met near Gwanghwamun in Seoul on August 21. Just one or two years ago, police would frequently arrest students doing drugs. Things started to change with the introduction of Brain Education.

The Brain Education program introduced to El Salvador was created by the Brain Education Multidisciplinary Research Center (Director Tae-min Ha) of the Global Cyber University, under the sponsorship of the Korean Ministry of Education. It is a new educational method centered on developing the character and learning ability of students. Beginning last year, Joaquin Rodezno students have received Brain Education classes once per week, which included 45 minutes of meditation, Dahnjon breathing, and energy exercises. Mueller, along with a Brain Education instructor from Korea, concentrated on empowering children to control their own emotions and recover a "can-do" feeling of confidence. "After doing 10 minutes of brain exercises, like stretching, the children share fun stories with a partner. They have a time in which they try to imagine themselves flying toward their dreams, and they train to heal themselves as they objectify and observe themselves through what is called 'metacognition.'"

Violence and drugs disappeared from Joaquin Rodezno after Brain Education was introduced. Once in last place nationwide with an average score of 3.2 (on a 10-point scale) on El Salvador's 2011 Assessment of Scholastic Achievement, the school this year was ranked number one with a score of 9.0. Even it's literature, science, and social sciences scores, which had been 3 to 4 points, rose to 7 to 8 points.

There was a great deal of resistance at first, Mueller says, since the program involved things like meditation and energy exercises, which are unfamiliar in Latin American culture. Now, teachers from all over El Salvador are coming to Joaquin Rodezno School to learn Korean Brain Education.

The El Salvadoran Ministry of Education was also greatly inspired. El Salvador's UN delegation hadn't expected that much even after learning of the results of Brain Education in Korea at the International Brain Education Seminar held at UN headquarters in 2010. On seeing the results of the programs at Joaquin Rodezno, the El Salvadoran Ministry of Education decided to expand the Korean Brain Education program to 177 schools nationwide. It is planned to later introduce the programs to all national schools (over 1800).

"A cocaine addict, Jose (not his real name, 17) had been kicked out of his own home. He had come to school only to get drugs. Through Brain Education, he has now kicked his drug habit and is preparing to transition to a higher grade school. Korea's Brain Education has positively transformed children who had once lost all hope in life."

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