[EDITORIALS]Dumbing down schoolingThe Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development hindered the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education’s efforts to establish international junior high schools next year. The ministry claimed that the new schools would lead to an even larger market for private tutoring. The Education Ministry is always happy to change the implementing ordinances of education laws to restrict the Seoul Office’s right to permit the establishment of special junior high schools.
Although egalitarianism and the provision of elite education are two basic, but clashing, principles in education, the global trend is to favor elite education given the limitless competition students face.
However, the Roh Moo-hyun administration has clung to its egalitarianism-oriented policy and produced unreasonable regulations that are completely unrealistic. Independently-financed high schools have been regulated and foreign language high schools have been hit with strange new rules on accepting new students.
A superintendent of educational affairs of Seoul has even said publicly that he wished the education ministry and the Blue House “left this job to the local office.” He even “begged” them to do so. It is clear that the Blue House has interfered with the Seoul office.
Many parents and students acknowledge the effectiveness of special high schools. These schools have been established to make up for the lower student standards that resulted from the egalitarianism-oriented schooling. Despite the slightly higher school fees, the teaching is high-quality, students are satisfied and parents say they don’t have to spend as much money on private tutoring. An international junior high school which opened last year in Gyeonggi province has been very popular, accepting 21 students on average for each one rejected.
Most of the members to take a seat on the board of the Seoul Office of Education next month favor the creation of international junior high schools.
Recently, the the U.S. news magazine Newsweek released its list of the world’s top 100 global universities; if public schools were included, Korea’s would have done equally poorly. None of Korea’s universities were on the list. This is a source of shame for a country whose economy is the world’s 11th-largest, and a reason an increasing number of students go abroad to study, leaving behind their families.
The government has been lowering educational standards. We wonder how we will survive in global competition.