[EDITORIALS]Making ‘elite’ education work

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[EDITORIALS]Making ‘elite’ education work

The Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development announced plans to implement “elite education” for the top 5 percent, or 400,000 students, in elementary, middle and high schools. This means that talented students will receive specialized courses according to their level of competency. This new plan will counter the problems of the past three decades of a standardized education system, and introduce competitiveness in education.
There has been endless controversy over the standardized education system, which, experts have pointed out, is reducing the academic competence of students because of its “general education-centered” approach.
In reality, because talented students receive the same kind of education as inferior students, the top students lose interest in studying and are not able to reach their potential. In the recently- announced comparisons of academic accomplishment of middle and high school students around the world, the average South Korean student was found to rank in the top tier.
However, the academic accomplishments of students in the top 5 percent of schools were found to lag behind international standards. This is because the objective of the nation’s education is equality, and it fails to provide differentiated or specialized education to the top students.
If the top students lack competency, then the future of a nation is bound to be bleak. There’s a saying that one genius can make tens of thousands of people live, and a country’s competitiveness depends on the competency and skills of the top talents, because they are the future leaders in all areas of society. This is why countries such as the United States, Britain and Singapore have been providing elite education to high school students, which allows them to take college credit courses in high school.
For elite education to succeed in Korea, the strong conviction of the Education Ministry and the cooperation of teachers’ groups is essential. The ministry must develop appropriate programs so that gifted education will be implemented smoothly in schools. Also, the government must foster superior teachers who can guide and teach top students to develop their potential. We must avoid the situation where parents and teachers oppose the formation of differentiated classes in schools on the grounds that it could create a sense of inequality among students.
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