[EDITORIALS]New education plan for SeoulKong Jong-taek, the newly elected education superintendent of Seoul, said, “I will make the enhancement of students’ scholastic ability my first priority task.” He also said, “I will keep the fundamentals of the standardized secondary education intact, but complement it by expanding the choice of schools for students and parents with the establishment of independent private, special-purpose, specialized, self-help and alternative schools.”
He also explained that he would try to improve the standardization system by encouraging competition. The new superintendent’s reform points in the right direction for Korean education.
The standardization system, implemented since 1974, was helpful in restraining population concentration in large cities and providing a balanced development of education in local provinces. But the system is criticized for lowering students’ scholastic ability. Students at different levels of ability and proficiency are accommodated in the same classroom and are taught with the same textbooks.
Following public demands to improve standardized education, the Ministry of Education launched a project a couple of years ago. But it encountered opposition from the local education superintendents. Especially, the former Seoul education superintendent, You In-jong, opposed independent private and special-purpose schools on the ground that they would become cram schools. Mr. Kong’s plan to increase the number of independent and special-purpose schools will contribute to the standardization system.
We no longer need standardized education that churns out stereotyped students deprived of the chance to develop their talents. Countries that introduced a standardized education system, including the United States and Japan, gradually are adopting competition in education. Considering the worldwide trend toward making secondary education compulsory, we have to maintain the fundamentals of standardized education at national and public high schools.
At the same time, many independent and special-purpose schools, that select students through competition and allow competition in their classes, should be established. And private schools should be allowed to select students and educate them according to the school’s purpose of establishment. Then we can educate competitive and able talents who can compete in the international market.