[EDITORIALS]Educators at odds - again

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[EDITORIALS]Educators at odds - again

Just one week after the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development unveiled measures to bolster public education, including hints of a resumption of supplemental classes at high schools, the Seoul education office announced that it would ban high schools in Seoul from giving extra lectures. Parents are at a loss whose tune they should dance to, because top public offices in charge of education contradict each other.

The Education Ministry said ambiguously about supplementary classes that principals can operate "education programs outside of regular courses" depending on each school's situation and what students and their parents want. Although it avoided any direct statement, the ministry emphasized the lower financial burdens on parents if schools held extra lessons to replace private tutoring and the independence of school decision-making.

But the Seoul city education board put its focus on making regular school classes more effective. It made it clear that it thinks extra classes would dent the effectiveness of regular lessons and turn schools into cram schools for university entrance examinations. Schools have a different attitude. According to a recent survey by the Korean Federation of Teachers' Associations of 405 high schools across the country, 74 percent plan to give extra lessons.

This is not the first clash between the central government and Seoul. When the ministry authorized independent private schools as part of its efforts to complement decades-long efforts to standardize high school education, the Seoul board balked, citing concerns about reviving prestigious schools and competition among middle school students to enter those schools. The ministry was able to select only five independent schools outside of Seoul, far fewer than its originally planned 30 schools nationwide. The ministry plans to pick another 10 schools for independent education programs by May; it is unclear how the Seoul education board will react to the move.

Authorities are fighting over education issues; policy coordination is lacking. The public will be the ultimate victims.
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