[EDITORIALS]Ending outside educationThe Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development announced a policy to reduce the amount of household spending on cram schools and tutoring. The ministry said it would allow schools to hold supplementary lessons after school hours and provide prep courses on the standardized test for college admission through the Internet and educational broadcasting stations.
Since the launch of the Roh administration, the president and the education minister have promised repeatedly that they would come up with a dramatic measure to reduce the nation’s 13.6 trillion won ($12 billion) in annual spending on college-prep cram schools.
But, the new policy is disappointing, because it is just another list of stop-gap measures that have been announced in the past. The policy is nothing new, so it is time for the government to get rid of the weak points and make the new policy work.
Private lessons conducted outside schools would be replaced by additional school classes and TV and Internet lectures, the ministry said. That will probably play an important role in cutting down the burden of fees for cram schools and tutoring. We welcome the plan for e-learning. The government’s Korea Education and Research Information Service and 16 city and provincial education offices will provide courses free of charge, and that will help many students who have not been able to attend cram schools because of money or distance problems.
Seoul must recruit good teachers at cram schools for the project. Seoul’s Gangnam-gu office is planning for Internet lessons by commissioning lecturers from well-known test prep institutions in the area. That is an excellent idea. Facilities must also be made available at schools for students who do not have televisions or Internet service at home.
Money is crucial, especially to hire lecturers who will help students prepare for the college admissions test. If they are too expensive and student are asked to pay, nothing will have changed. The Education Ministry said it would utilize education college students for such courses; that is insufficient and will just drive students back to the cram courses. The preparatory courses must be competitive in quality and hold the students’ interest.