Some time ago, I visited the Sinuiju Paeksa Primary School situated in the border city of Sinuiju.
The school boasts a neat, modern four-storeyed building decorated with tiles of different colours. When I admired the school building as a smart one, Kim Myong Sun, headmistress of the school, said proudly, “Our school has classrooms, laboratories and circle rooms, all fully equipped as required by the universal 12-year compulsory education system.”
Then she led me to the room of the 1-1 class, where all the pupils were attentively watching a cartoon film The Hedgehog Defeats the Tiger on TV, holding their breath. After a while, the teacher asked them, “Why did the tiger mistake the chestnut-burr for the hedgehog?” The pupils answered, “Because he got frightened by the hedgehog” or “Because both the chestnut-burr and the hedgehog have spines on the outside.”
“Yes, you’re all right,” the teacher said. “The natural world has a number of animals and plants that defend themselves with such spines or poison. Now let us call out such animals and plants.” She thus let the children think of the wide natural world.
When I praised the teacher for her graphic teaching, the headmistress told me that the teacher was Jang Ryon Sil, the first of the school’s teachers good at inventing heuristic methods of teaching. She added that the school has all the classrooms equipped as multifunctional ones using such visual aids as the abovementioned lessons.
Now we went to the newly built table-tennis circle hall. Kim Won Chol, who was in charge of the circle, said proudly, “Till a year ago, the circle was small in scale with only a few members. Then we boldly decided to expand the existing room for the circle into a large table-tennis hall so that we could admit more children who wanted to learn playing table-tennis. This led to an increase in the number of able reserve players. And some of them developed their own special skills. A team formed with such players ranked among the first three winners at the National Inter-Provincial Sports Games 2017 held last year.”
The headmistress said that after school many pupils were practising the ABC of other sports they liked respectively, such as football and basketball.
We also looked round dancing and music circle rooms. I was very impressed by the scene of dancing circle members practising movements hard. And I was struck with admiration for the way little attenders played very skilfully various musical instruments such as violins, accordions and drum sets.
When I said that all the classrooms and circle rooms were absolutely perfect, the headmistress said, “Whether the educational work would be successful or not cannot be decided today, so we all turned out and changed the school for the better like this in less than a year.”
We also dropped in at the 3-6 classroom. The class, I was told, had many pupils of literary ability. All the pupils were engrossed in writing composition on the theme My Dream. What first caught my eye was a composition a girl, named Jong Ye Ryong, was writing. She wrote that her dream was to be a poet as famous as Kim Il Sin, a graduate of the school, who had been well-known as a little impromptu poet during the 13th World Festival of Youth and Students held in Pyongyang. And other pupils, too, expressed in their writings their dreams of becoming a world famous sportsperson or a renowned musician. Young as they were, all the pupils had high aims.
Then we looked round the nature room that had on display a lot of stuffed specimen and samples, a globe and visual aids showing various natural phenomena, and a computer room. Back out of the last room I heard singing coming from somewhere. Music circle members were singing the song Ode to Motherland in their room on the third floor.
Our national flag will be fluttering in the sky for ever.
All dreams will come true in this land.
I was unusually moved to hear the song in the border city. Then a tune was coming out from the speaker to signal the end of their daily work. I followed the pupils out to the playground. They began to play football, exercise on horizontal bars, play rope jumping or run to catch up with one another with great animation.
At last, the short winter sun was setting. The schoolchildren with schoolbags on their shoulders were leaving the school for home. As such days went on they would be prepared to become future famous doctors and heroes, I thought. Looking at the lovely children, I seemed to see the bright future of the powerful nation.
Kim Chol Ung