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Thursday, April 14, 2005

Parents' school meal responsibilities

Ohmynews provides an informative story on the difficulties that parents (read: mothers) have with the school meal service responsibilities (kûpsik tanbôn) in Seoul. I'm not fully aware of how wide this system is, in what levels of schools it's used and how's it elsewhere in the country, but the examples that Ohmynews provides show what it means to have to go at least once a month to the school of one's child to help with the school meals.

국민학교 급식, 1950년대
In one of the cases the father of the child was staying at home tending the slightly disabled child, while the mother worked. The father had no attitude problem doing the meal service at school, but the school had an attitude problem about the man, so it had to be the mother, who was employed elsewhere.

Sure I'm not surprised that school policies and practices are done as if mothers always had time available, but wouldn't some change in how families are regarded be timely? Change in not expecting parents to use their time to go to school to feed the children would also require more funds for school meals, but that's hardly happening when the Seoul municipal school meal budget for this year is 22% smaller than last year (article in Hankyoreh), and more and more children who used to be provided meals are left without subsidies. (Quite interesting and telling that Hankyoreh groups the articles about school meals , food safety and food poisonings together.)

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