An irresponsible decisionThe turmoil over the opening of international middle schools in Seoul is reaching its climax.
The Seoul Metropolitan Board of Education has indefinitely deferred plans to establish “special middle schools” proposed by the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education.
It is unlikely that the decision will be reversed, throwing the opening of international middle schools in March into uncertainty. There is confusion and resistance among students who have been preparing to enter international middle schools. The public has been fooled again by inconsistent educational policies.
The board’s deferment of the decision is a typical example of a cowardly attempt to protect the status quo. This is irresponsible.
“The board members agree that there is a need for international middle schools but they decided to postpone the decision because there is not yet enough social consensus,” the Seoul education office said.
The discussion over international middle schools started in early 2006. It is time that the decision is made, based on the need for one and its validity.
But the board deferred the decision because of resistance from some corners of the media, although they acknowledge the need for such schools. This is tantamount to an abandonment of duty.
International middle schools will satisfy the diverse educational needs of students in a global age. Their presence will improve educational competitiveness by diversifying schools.
Students who have lived abroad for a long time will benefit from such schools. They will also be an alternative for students who might otherwise go abroad to study.
The ultimate purpose of these schools is to nurture students who can complete at a global level. International middle schools would comprise 0.26 percent of the entire middle school enrollment. If this small level of specialized education is not allowed and uniform, egalitarian education is continued, we will not secure educational competitiveness.
The Seoul education office should immediately persuade the board to revive the plan before it dies a slow death. To do this, it needs to thoroughly prepare a curriculum and budget for the schools. It should not give the impression that things are being done hastily. It also needs to come up with ways to prevent overheating of the private education market as a result of these schools.
The board should not ignore the public’s demand for diversified education.