Autonomous educationCity and provincial education offices are devoting themselves to drawing up self-regulatory measures. The transition team has unveiled its plan that authority over education will be transferred from the Education Ministry to city and provincial offices of education.
The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education has set up a task force to cope with the new autonomy. The Ulsan Metropolitan Office of Education is crafting a policy that the top 30 percent of students in the unified entrance examination will have a right to choose their high schools. It is also expected that the establishment of special-purpose high schools and self-regulating private schools will be mushrooming in the near future. The growth had been stopped by the interference of the Education Ministry.
Autonomy in education is a step in the right direction. In a rapidly changing knowledge-based society, schools should be more self-regulating than ever. Autonomy is a significant premise to secure educational diversity and competitiveness. However, there is one thing that we need to point out. The quality of autonomous education should be supervised on the basis of unit schools. Autonomous education should not lead to loose public education. We are well aware that the safety device for autonomous education must be the strengthening of school assessment.
In other countries, school assessment is already a big tide that we can not swim against. In Britain, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills inspects and regulates 4,000 schools per year in order to achieve excellence in the care of children. Drawing on the results, the job of improving the quality of school education is conducted. Every year, Singapore releases its ranking of middle and high schools to parents. The New York City government closed six schools that scored poorly in school assessment last year.
Korea’s school assessment is still in the infant stage. Three-year assessment guidelines for primary, middle and high schools were devised in 2006. However, they leave much to be desired.
We don’t need to close schools based on the results of the assessment right away, as shown in the foreign cases. The first step is to examine the quality of education and take the lead in driving innovation. Of course, the results of the assessment should also be open to the public. It is a crucial premise for the successful establishment of autonomous education.