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District offices seek cooperation with universities

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A resident of Dongdaemun District in Seoul participates in a lifelong education program offered by the district office in cooperation with Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. Courtesy of the Dongdaemun District Office
A resident of Dongdaemun District in Seoul participates in a lifelong education program offered by the district office in cooperation with Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. Courtesy of the Dongdaemun District Office

Schools provide lifelong learning programs for residents, job support for young people

By Bahk Eun-ji

Many people pursue knowledge throughout their lives, and lifelong learning has become more important in an aging society where people seek new jobs or hobbies for their post-retirement lives.

To satisfy such needs, district offices in Seoul are cooperating with universities located in their districts to provide learning programs. The prolonged COVID-19 pandemic has also become a chance to expand online course offerings.

Dongdaemun District Office is providing humanities courses about India through a specialized program linked with the Institute of Indian Studies at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (HUFS).

The program deals with Indian philosophy and culture.

Since signing an agreement with the institute in August 2019, the district office has operated education programs on Indian culture, such as, "The Wisdom of India: Self-examination and Happiness," "Indian Literature and Human Stories" and "World Heritage Sites in India."

"The project was created as we thought about how to share various research and academic activities on India conducted by our institute with local residents," said Shin Min-ha, a research professor at the institute.

Although the general public has a lot of interest in India, many of them don't have the opportunity to study in depth about the country, Shin said.

"People can find information on the internet, but most of this information is not accurate. We want to get closer to local residents who are interested in India by sharing our knowledge of the country," Shin said.

This year's program, which started last week, consists of eight classes. A group of instructors from HUFS will offer lectures on ancient Indian civilization, Mahatma Gandhi, South Indian society and India's philosophy and literature. These real-time, online classes are offered using the video conferencing app, Zoom, to enable real-time communication with the instructors.

Participants of the lifelong education program offered by the Seoul National University of Science and Technology (SNUT) and the Nowon District Office learn how to make handmade beer. Courtesy of the SNUT
Participants of the lifelong education program offered by the Seoul National University of Science and Technology (SNUT) and the Nowon District Office learn how to make handmade beer. Courtesy of the SNUT

Gwangjin District Office also said that it is running university-linked lifelong learning programs with two universities located in the district: Konkuk University and Sejong University.

The district office operates these educational programs by signing agreements with local universities every year so that residents can receive quality lifelong learning opportunities close to their homes.

Various programs have been prepared for this year, from liberal arts courses, such as humanities and art, to practical courses, such as asset management and cooking.

Nowon District Office is operating the "Nowon Lifelong Citizen University" program with seven universities, in order to provide lifelong education courses tailored to residents according to changing social trends. The participating universities are Seoul National University of Science and Technology (SNUT), Kwangwoon University, Sahmyook University, Seoul Women's University, Korea Military Academy, Induk University, and Korean Bible University.

An SNUT official said that the school has been participating in the program to strengthen its public role as a national university. The first program included a course on making handmade beer, and since then, SNUT has provided various courses, such as preventing dementia in the early stages and upcycling.

To prevent the spread of coronavirus, most of the classes are provided online using Zoom. Classes that require face-to-face training are conducted in strict adherence to rules, the SNUT official said.

Some other district offices are also seeking cooperation with area universities to promote job creation for young people, by using universities' resources with public support.

Seodaemun District Office is pursuing a project to create a campus town, where public institutions, universities, and businesses in the district cooperate to nurture and support startups founded by young people.

"We will create a local startup ecosystem with young people by taking advantage of the fact that we have the largest number of universities in our district in Seoul," said Moon Seok-jin, head of the Seodaemun District Office.

Moon Seok-jin, head of Seodaemun District Office, greets a young entrepreneur at S-Cube, a space for startups established by young people within Yonsei University, during his visit there. Courtesy of Seodaemun District Office
Moon Seok-jin, head of Seodaemun District Office, greets a young entrepreneur at S-Cube, a space for startups established by young people within Yonsei University, during his visit there. Courtesy of Seodaemun District Office

There are eight universities in Seodaemun: Yonsei University, Ewha Womans University, Myongji University, Kyonggi University, Chugye University for the Arts, Methodist Theological University, Myongji College and Seoul Women's College of Nursing.

He also emphasized that the district office will provide a foundation for startups set up by young people through the campus town project, making more efforts to create jobs and revitalize the local economy.

The S-Cube building at Yonsei University in Seoul / Courtesy of Seodaemun District Office
The S-Cube building at Yonsei University in Seoul / Courtesy of Seodaemun District Office
In particular, Seodaemun District Office is pushing for a "Sinchon Venture Valley Creation Project," a plan to turn Sinchon into a place for young startup entrepreneurs. Sinchon-dong is where Yonsei and Ewha Womans universities are located.

Starting by opening two incubator facilities for startups run by young people, the office will also cooperate with Yonsei and Ewha to establish co-housing and co-working spaces for young adults.

Yonsei University has been running S-Cube in cooperation with Seodaemun District Office since last December. S-Cube is a space for prospective startups set up based on the school's successful model of supporting startups.

It has 20 individual offices, co-working spaces, conference rooms and other facilities.
Bahk Eun-ji ejb@koreatimes.co.kr


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