[LETTERS to the editor]Wrong motives plus wrong process equals wrong education policy

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[LETTERS to the editor]Wrong motives plus wrong process equals wrong education policy

The Ministry of Education unilaterally announced that from 2008, foreign language high schools can only accept students living around its district or province. This does not make sense to me.
This makes me doubt if Korea is truly a democratic countryt. In a democratic society, decisions are made through in-depth discussions among rational citizens.
However, the Education Ministry unilaterally decided important issues without any process of gathering the views of people critically affected by this new policy.
Maybe the ministry wanted to avoid harsh opposition in the first place, since Koreans are especially sensitive about education. The behavior of the ministry unjustly took away citizens’ freedom of speech. Suppression of criticism does not happen in a democracy.
The government seems to be eager to lower the quality of education. Equally providing quality education would be ideal, and of course, preferable. Yet, this is not the reality here, which leads students to study harder in order to enter privileged schools.
But the government’s new policy deprives them of equal opportunity to receive quality education in schools they want to attend. Is not equal opportunity one of the fundamental principles in this capitalist society? This “downward standardization of education” is the most absurd attempt at reform, it happens in no other developed country.
The new policy will accelerate inequality within foreign language high schools. The implementation of this policy will lead schools in affluent districts to become elite schools while schools located outside these wealthy enclaves will fall further behind.
This policy will very likely widen the gap between schools in Seoul and outside Seoul. As a side effect, it could lure more parents to move to Seoul, now that the quality of education outside Seoul is no longer unquestioned. More people rushing into Seoul will exacerbate the social problems in the capital, such as lack of housing and environmental pollution.
The new policy will only bring more inequality and its associated effects.
Education policies are frivolous. About two years ago, the government encouraged the establishment of foreign language high schools. As a result, new high schools such as Hankuk Academy of Foreign Studies in Yongin opened last year with new dormitories for first- and second-year students. Some schools now face great losses. Schools, parents and students will be adversely affected. Inconsistent policies are harming those who work on long-term plans for education.
This policy is absurd in its punitive motive. It is true that not many students go on to major in foreign languages in college, which the government criticizes as a departure from the original purpose of foreign language high schools. But this is a freedom of choice that students in foreign language high schools can exercise. The government has no right to punish them.
It is we students who end up as the scapegoats.

by Jang Hye-won
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