[EDITORIALS]Improve public education

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[EDITORIALS]Improve public education

The Education Ministry’s measures to ban private tutoring classes in office and residential buildings in major cities and to prohibit the establishment of “dorm hagwon,” or residential institutes where students live and receive private education all day long, is an expression of a strong will to reduce the abusive private education practices throughout the nation.
But we doubt that private education will be regulated effectively as the ministry intends. Even when private tutoring was totally banned, the practices were still prevalent.
The ministry measures may be effective temporarily, but new ways for private education to exploit the loopholes in the regulations will appear as time goes by.
Actually, the recent prevalence of private tutoring in office and residential complexes results from the Seoul education office’s ban on the operation of private institutes after 10 p.m.
Even if the ministry bans the current private tutoring practices, it is unlikely that private tutors who have so far effectively dodged the ministry’s regulations will officially report to the ministry to legalize their operations.
In fact, they will engage in even more illicit private tutoring, victimizing students and their parents. Indeed, an endless chain of government crackdowns and evasion by tutors and students will continue.
The private education market in Korea amounts to 12 trillion won ($10 billion) per year. In Korea, private education is a necessary evil. The government thus should formulate measures acknowledging the existence of private education.
The reason that private education does not disappear is because public education is unsatisfactory. Students think public education is insufficient for them to pass the entrance exams of advanced schools.
When private tutors teach better than school teachers and when private education is of a higher quality than public education, who would not want private education? If public education functioned well, who would take private classes?
Korea’s public education system should be changed so that it can become more competitive, and so that unqualified teachers can be dismissed or retrained. The ministry should not waste time failing to focus on the substance of the matter.
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