[EDITORIALS]The educational campout

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[EDITORIALS]The educational campout

A group of parents of high school students has been forming in front of the gate of the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education for several days and nights now. The sight of some parents sleeping overnight on the street in front of the office symbolizes the reality of Korea's education. The group of parents is not really different from the crowd of homeless people spotted immediately after the foreign exchange crisis.

Listening to the parents explain why they are sleeping on the street helps us realize why being a parent of a student in our country is such a difficult mission. The parents have chosen to sleep outside in order to help their children, who will enter high school this year, to transfer to another school. The students are supposed to pick up transfer applications from the assigned schools and their parents are waiting to submit the forms to the office of education. The transfer will be made on a first-come-first-served basis; those parents first in line will be guaranteed their children's transfer choices.

Most of the parents hope to send their children to high schools whose alumni traditionally have gone on to the so-called "SKY" universities ?Seoul National , Korea and Yonsei. That is why such a long line of parents can be found formed in front of the Seoul education office. The parents' blind enthusiasm for education is an undeniable problem, but we have to admit that it is natural to demand better schools and a better education environment. If the government succeeded in its 28-year reform project to even the quality of all high schools, and if there were no differences between all high schools, parents wouldn't be sleeping on the street.

The educational administration's inadequate policy is another problem. This isn't the first year that parents have slept on the street; the camping out is becoming an annual practice. The education office expects that the number of transfer applicants will increase by 30 percent in the aftermath of the equalizing of all high schools in the capital region. The education office, however, did not introduce any fair and practical measures, such as drawing lots for school entrances, to convince the parents. The long line of parents sleeping on the street is the conclusive evidence why we can no longer delay a drastic reform of our education system.
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