WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Barack Obama Wednesday lauded South Korean students for outperforming American students thanks to the nation's heavy investment in education.
"South Korean children are outpacing our kids in math and science," Obama said in a speech at George Washington University to unveil his fiscal policy centering on budget deficit cuts while maintaining heavy investment in education. "They're scrambling to figure out how they put more money into education."
Obama announced his plans to reduce the federal budget deficit by US$4 trillion in 12 years on military and domestic spending cuts, tax increases for the wealthy and health care overhaul.
Congressional Republicans have refused to raise the government's borrowing limit without commitments to deep cuts in long-term deficits, although the federal deficit is expected to surpass the $14.3 billion borrowing ceiling possibly next month.
The deficit is likely to reach $1.4 trillion for this year alone.
Since his visit to Seoul in 2009, Obama has often talked about the education fervor that contributed to South Korea's rapid economic development in recent decades, and has deplored the underperformance of American students, especially in math and science.
Obama has also called for the U.S. to look to South Korea in adopting longer school days and after-school programs for American children to help them compete globally, while he has lamented a high school dropout rate that has tripled in the past 30 years.
In his nationally televised State of the Union address in January, Obama cited South Korea in emphasizing the role of parents in education.
"Let's also remember that after parents, the biggest impact on a child's success comes from the man or woman at the front of the classroom," he said at the time. "In South Korea, teachers are known as 'nation builders.'"
Speaking to a classroom at Kenmore Middle School, in Arlington, Virginia, last month, Obama also said, "In South Korea, teachers are known as nation builders. I think it's time we treated our teachers with the same level of respect right here in the United States of America." (Yonhap News)