[EDITORIALS]Future of nation is in schools

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[EDITORIALS]Future of nation is in schools

The Education Ministry has announced its follow-up measures to help reduce spending in the private education sector. According to the plans, students and parents will have a wider selection of schools when moving on to high school as the ministry plans to install and expand joint school districts.
Also, the government plans to increase the number of special-purpose high schools and independent public schools while evaluating independent private high schools for a possible expansion in 2006.
The ministry’s decision to increase the selection of schools is going in the right direction. Public education has collapsed, and spending on private education has reached levels that are impossible to ignore. Reports of students sleeping at schools and studying at cram schools reflect the dire situation.
However, the ministry’s plan to increase the percentage of students who get their first-choice high schools is still insufficient.
Deprivation of students’ school selection rights due to 30 years of standardized high school systems has brought about the collapse of the public school system and weakened its competitiveness.
Take a look at neighboring Japan. Last year, the Tokyo city government abolished its school district system so that students could select their own schools. Some local governments have even adapted the system at the elementary and junior high school levels. It is all part of Japan’s efforts to develop competitive workers for the future.
The establishment and expansion of joint school districts will not automatically lead to improvements in public schooling. There needs to be an increased variety of schools through further establishment of specialized and independent private schools. More competition must be introduced to the education sector. Joint school districts must not be used just to fill up classrooms in sparsely populated areas, which is how Seoul has operated the system.
In order to secure students’ school selection rights, the current school district system must be overhauled. The government must either consider boldly eliminating school districts or widen them. This will improve the competitiveness of not only students and schools, but also our country.
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