[EDITORIALS]Classroom policy a failure

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[EDITORIALS]Classroom policy a failure

The new semester has begun, but campuses nationwide are in a din. Construction is underway to add classrooms to elementary, middle and high schools; in some regions, high school students have boycotted the entrance ceremonies to protest school assignments. Parents are also holding demonstrations.

Problems were foreseen when the Ministry of Education announced in July a plan to reduce the number of students per classroom. The ministry planned to lower the number of high school students per classroom to 40 and the elementary and middle school class size to 35 by 2004. But the president has ordered the deadline advanced for high schools to this year, and the other schools to next year. After the president's order, schools throughout the country became construction sites. Nearly 750 high schools began building new classrooms; classrooms at 360 schools are still being built.

The construction projects in Bucheon, Gyeonggi province, and Ulsan, North Gyeongsang province, were delayed and some students were assigned to schools lacking a sufficient number of classrooms. In some regions, textbook supplies cannot meet demand. The Education Ministry said the budget for classroom construction was allocated in September. Construction was stopped in the winter to accommodate high school seniors preparing for the college entrance examination, the Education Ministry said, explaining the delays. The ministry said all construction will be completed by the end of May.

In an elementary school in Jeonju, Jeolla province, the auditorium was divided into four sections with aluminum to create four classrooms. Because the top of the partitions is open, children can hear what is going on in the next classroom. Those sitting in the rear can hardly hear what their teachers say. Students are victimized by the education policy.

Lowering the number of students per classroom was greeted because students can study effectively. However, the government should never let our youngsters sit in makeshift classrooms only to reduce classroom size. The Education Ministry should closely examine schools and revise the schedule for reducing classroom size.
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