Educating For Life, Preventing Student Suicides
$200 raised
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3 contributors
5 Years running

South Korea ranks 3rd globally in education, has dramatically changed its economic status since the Korean War, and is home to several globally recognized corporations. Yet, suicide is the leading cause of death in South Korea between the ages of 10 and 39.  Often, those who committed suicide have been top achievers who suffered from despair after experiencing a slump in test performance. Roughly 53% of South Korean youths who consider suicide cite excessive educational competition as the reason. Even though there have been reforms on promoting individuality and creativity, many Korean students still face an incredible amount of pressure from school as well as their family. Parents enforce long hours of study to ensure strong results on the national university examinations which can determine their chances of future career success. The average student spends 15 hours per day at school, in after-school tutoring and studying at cram halls.  Children are sleep deprived and socially underdeveloped, ranking South Korean elementary, middle, and high school students the lowest in terms of happiness compared to other OECD countries.  The KIT Foundation has a vision to see this change and is going to use education to do just that.  South Korea has an untapped measure of creativity and potential that even the loss of one could have an immeasurable ripple effect globally.

The KIT Foundation (Korea In Training) has developed a three-pronged approach using education as the catalyst for change.  The three core programs focus on:

I. Educating Students

Students currently compete educationally in the classroom. Competition is so high that it inhibits the development of social relationships. Because social relationships are so underdeveloped, students feel isolated, alone, unknown and insignificant. This has to change radically. The KIT Foundation will provide in-school, in-class programs to accomplish two goals:

Suicide Awareness and Prevention

Suicide is an extremely taboo subject, rarely talked about as a culture, less talked about by youth. By opening up a platform that talks about the signs of isolation, depression, anxiety and withdrawal that can lead to suicide, students can recognize warning signals in each other. Besides recognizing warning signals, students will also be taught how to talk to each other about these signs, talk to teachers about their struggles or classmates that may be struggling, and how to ask for and receive help and support.

Social Peer Relationship Development

Children have to be taught social skills as they are not something that is natural to most. The Social Peer Relationship Development Program will not only teach students the basics of greetings and partings, but how to praise each other, ask questions to get to know one another, realize similarities, celebrate uniqueness’s and work together as a team. When students’ needs are met for social security and belonging, they are free to engage in higher-level learning. When students feel safe, known, respected, and appreciated, they are more prepared to work hard and learn well. Developing social skills provides the appropriate context to nurture learning. By teaching social skills, the psychological and emotional distance between classmates is reduced and a sense of belonging is instilled. This creates the “will” for students to work together and teaches the “skills” of teamwork. Building social relationships in a class where students know and like each other reduces bullying, prevents violence and decreases suicidal tendencies.

II. Educating Teachers

The current method of teaching used is the traditional teacher model – students sit in rows, the teacher calls on one at a time when asking questions or reviewing, and worksheets, quizzes and tests are used to check for understanding. Some group work might be assigned but very little interaction occurs. We believe that there is a better way to educate and we have over 40 years of research to prove it. Through training provided by Kagan Korea, educators in every grade, subject and institution from pre-school through university can learn how to implement Kagan Cooperative Learning into their classrooms. This revolutionary method of teaching places students in teams of four at all times, uses Classbuilding and Teambuilding to bond students together, utilizes Kagan Structures for content delivery and review, and combines these elements to feed the crucial nutrients to the brain (such as glucose and oxygen) that it needs to process information. The Kagan Cooperative Learning training can be delivered in two different contexts:

Open Workshops

Educators can attend open workshops that are ongoing, held throughout the Korean peninsula and are open to all educators. This is a good option for teachers from schools or districts that have not yet implemented the training. However, this option does not follow a plan for individual teachers to complete the courses nor offers support for individual teachers implementing the method into their classrooms. Rather, support and implementation help is offered through Kagan Klubs (a group of teachers in a geographical area that are connected and meet regularly to support each other), Kagan Ambassadors (teachers that have been through advanced training, have a Kagan model classroom and can open their classroom for observation) and Kagan Kommunity (the community of educators in Korea that have attended Kagan Cooperative Learning training and stay connected through the Kommunity support programs).

In-School Professional Development Plans

Schools and districts implement a Kagan Professional Development plan that includes Kagan Cooperative Learning training during in-service days, Kagan Coaching to support teachers in the classroom, specialized training for specific grades and subjects (such as Kagan Cooperative Learning For Kindy Kids, Kagan Cooperative Learning & ESL, and Math / Science / Music), Cooperative Meeting for team leaders and administrators, SAM Club development, and advanced Kagan training such as Multiple Intelligences that focuses on differentiation. By having a plan in place, teachers AND students come together on the same page and consistency is achieved throughout a school. Teachers are all going through the same training at the same time, learning and using the same jargon, and providing the same delivery method of educational content in every classroom. For the students, for every subject with every teacher, they are hearing the same words from their teachers, in teams in every class, using Structures to learn and review content. This all-together is the preferred method of delivery as the plan is set in place by the school for the teachers, scheduled on days already set aside for teacher development, and paid for by the school or district. All support such as Kagan Klubs, Kagan Ambassadors, and Kagan Kommunity is available as well.


III. Educating Parents

It may seem that educating parents would be the easiest part in the plan to decrease student suicide. However, it is one of the larger hurdles to leap. Korean parents play the most significant part in the amount of pressure, stress, and strain that students feel. This part they play is widely accepted as “cultural”. They are strong, proud and highly opinionated, especially the mothers who are the ones left to raise children while the fathers work long hours to support the family. Children are required to perform well in school for the family to have a seemingly high social status. This puts an unimaginable amount of pressure on the children. The aim in educating parents is two-fold.

Suicide Awareness and Prevention

Suicide is talked about the least in the family circle. Parents don’t want to talk to their children about it and children don’t want to talk to their parents about it. Neither know how. By opening up a platform that teaches parents about the signs of isolation, depression, anxiety and withdrawal that can lead to suicide, they can recognize warning signals in their children. Along with recognizing warning signals, parents will also be taught how to talk to their children about these signs, talk to teachers about their children, and how to get help and support. Opening up the channels of communication is a big achievement.

Parent Re-education About Education

Re-educating parents about education aims to show parents that their children can still achieve high standards academically without the pressure while becoming a more rounded individual. Educating the parents is just as much about training them in Classbuilding, Teambuilding, cooperative learning, and social skills as it is about doing this with the students and teachers. Parents need to learn a new way to study so that they know how to and can support their children’s study habits. Through this “re-education” of parents, they will be shown that test scores increase, content retention increases (meaning they actual retain what they learn and don’t dump the information after a test), and students overall do better in school.

What is Kagan Cooperative Learning?

Watch this short video to learn more about Kagan Cooperative Learning.

Why use Kagan Cooperative Learning as the catalyst?

Kagan Cooperative Learning has over 40 years of research behind the method. This is not an experiment on students. The benefits - increases in learning, social skill development, creative and critical thinking development, boosted achievement, content retention and so on – are all proven. Cooperative learning is the most researched and evidence based teaching method. It is not curriculum, grade or content specific. It works in every classroom. All of the Kagan Cooperative Learning elements together create active student engagement for all. No students can be left out or check out. This creates a safe and secure learning environment where all students are known and are significant.  This is THE key in reducing educational related suicides. If students feel that they are truly known and are significant – their team depends on them, their classmates know who they are, they relate to their peers around them – the option of suicide decreases dramatically.


Funding Needs

The core programs outlined here have been in development since 2013 and are ready to launch into classrooms and schools. To effectively do this, The KIT Foundation needs to provide for the following components:

 1. Full-time Personnel

A minimum of 2 full-time Program Managers are needed to carry out and maintain the projects and plan of actions

2. Operating Expenses

Print materials for programs, supplies and space requirements

3. Scholarship Opportunities

Scholarships for educators and schools without the funding to cover training and program implementation


No child should ever have suicide as an option. Ever. Please help get this program into the Korean education system, no matter what type of school. Your donations go straight toward . . .

  •   Launching and maintaining the program
  •   Getting trained experts in front of students, teachers and parents to educate them in suicide awareness and how to open lines of communication
  •   Re-educating students, teachers and parents in a new way to learn
  •   Training teachers in the Kagan Cooperative Learning method

       All donations will be matched by Kagan Korea.

Your donation has a direct effect on the lives of students and the potential decrease in the youth suicide rate. One-time donation and reoccurring monthly support options available. Please give today.


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