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A group of 16 teachers from South Korea spent a week of their winter break getting a firsthand look at seven Christian schools in West Michigan.

The visit was a part of Christian Reformed World Missions’ Educational Care (EC) program, which seeks to improve Christian education around the world.

“We found that students in South Korea are taught very well in how to recite, but not how to apply what they learn,” said Al Persenaire, EC’s project manager. “They also express a desire to learn how to better integrate their biblical faith with their curriculum.”

Regular EC training events take place in South Korea. But since Christian schools there have been growing for only the last several years, Persenaire and other EC program members believed it would help for teachers to visit schools with a longer history.

“We were so encouraged as we witnessed Christian education at the classroom level,” said Ma Byong Shik.

Ma once worked at a South Korean public school but was discouraged by the fierce level of competition and pressure to succeed the school placed on students.

Several years later, Ma has been working hard to develop his country’s emerging Christian school scene, taking on leadership roles in one of the nation’s largest Christian school associations.

Ma and the others were especially impressed by seeing the high level of involvement of parent volunteers in the schools. They hope to encourage parents at their own schools to do the same.

“We will return to South Korea with many practical insights that we can use right away,” Ma said.

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