A Bad Idea for SchoolsThe Board of Education of Kyonggi Province has decided to begin standardizing the level of secondary education from 2002 in four regions: Seongnam, Bucheon, Anyang and the Anyang suburbs of Gwachon, Gunpo and Uiwang. The plan is to unify the school districts of each region, but the details of the plan including apportionment of the new districts are to be announced in July.
We are concerned that expanding the program to level off all high schools to the same standard will lead to lowering the level of scholarship. The Kyonggi Board of Education justifies its decision by saying that it was based on surveys that showed a majority of the public approved of it. While it is true that standardization has its good points, such as freeing students from the excesses of "examination hell," when we consider the need for our graduates to be competitive internationally, the idea of bringing all our high schools down to the same level is an extremely irresponsible step to take.
The policy of lowering standards, applied over the past 20 years, has turned secondary education into a shambles. Instead of working to fix what is wrong with the content of high school education, the school systems are more concerned with external appearances.
More standardization of our schools will do nothing to satisfy the need and demand for a higher quality and greater variety of education. To cope with the increasing call for different kinds of educational experience and for strengthened competitiveness, we should encourage the establishment of more independent private high schools, schools for the gifted and specialty high schools, but so far no such trend is taking hold.
The specialty high schools that already exist should be improved so that they can turn out the most outstanding graduates in their field, which is the purpose for which such schools were founded in the first place. A completely uniform education system has some serious side effects, including fostering low regard for public education and dependence on private schools. Many families who don''t trust such a system send their children to school overseas, which is a drain on our foreign exchange reserves.
Our school systems must not be allowed to take the easy road to mass mediocrity, yet our education authorities are leading us right down that path, away from competitiveness and scholastic excellence. For the sake of our country''s future, they must give up this notion that equality for all means an equally mediocre education for everyone.