Who are international schools for?

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Who are international schools for?

Recently, the government decided to give graduates of international schools the same status as that of domestic school graduates. It means that even if you graduated from an international school in Korea, you will be considered as having graduated from a Korean school.

In the 21st century, South Korea as a nation is no longer composed of only one ethnicity. This is quite accepted, and people of various origins are a common sight on the streets of Seoul. Opening doors to them and establishing international schools to provide education to children of expatriates in South Korea is vital, and it’s good that the government is paying more attention to those schools.

However, it should reconsider some of its plans to “globalize” the Korean education system. One of the plans is to accept international school diplomas the same way it does those granted by domestic schools.

International schools usually provide Western style teaching, with different curriculums. There are so many differences between Korean and Western education.

The goal of Korean school education is to educate students to become citizens in Korean society. Schools educate them in Korean history, culture and values. It is the Korean students in school today who will live here as Korean citizens and take care of the nation.

International schools have a different goal. They teach subjects in English [or other languages of their home countries], with a focus on Western values. How can students graduating from a totally different system, with little education on Korean values, be considered as Korean school graduates?

If the governments’ plan is implemented, the consequences are obvious. International schools will become merely schools for privileged children of the well-off to have an edge on getting into prestigious universities.

The main reason some parents have not welcomed international schools is because their graduates have had some problems getting into these universities. Now, the government is giving them a treat.

On top of that, now the government is trying to expand the ratio of Korean students in international schools. International schools that were meant for foreign students will now accept more Koreans! What’s the point of international schools then?

International schools are to be accepted as Korean schools and teach in all-important English. With more Korean students now allowed, the only two parties who are really happy about the decision are hagwon [private academies] owners and privileged parents.

Without doubt, international schools will become just another set of foreign language high schools or international middle schools.

It is shameful that the government is only supporting those who have opportunities to go abroad, have green-cards or foreign citizenship. True Koreans are left behind in the name of globalization of Korea’s education system.

This is not a matter of have and have-nots; if you are rich enough, fine, go to better, expensive schools. The main problem here is that the government is forgetting priorities. Students living in Korea who get education about Korean values in the Korean language to live in Korea are of higher priority - not ethnic Korean students who get green-cards by fraud or privileged Korean students who will go study abroad anyway; not those students getting education in English about Western values. I hope the government realizes that supporting Western education and leaving Korean education behind will not make South Korea’s education “global.”

Kang Yoon Seung, student, Hankuk University

of Foreign Studies
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