Focus on the schools we have
A couple of days ago, the Education Ministry confirmed that the plan to establish international middle schools was approved. The ministry announced that the launch of these international schools will boost the education system, molding selected Korean students into international leaders.
School administrations will take academic records and recommendations into consideration in picking the brightest of the bunch. The ministry also said this plan would provide Korean students with more diverse education options.
Can anyone else see something odd about this plan?
First of all, everyone should consider the question of equality of access. “Diverse education options” should mean giving more choices of school, not separating selected children into schools that will provide a completely different environment than the rest. Moreover, they’ll be taught in a completely different language.
This may lead to differences in society. The government is telling us that the launch of international middle schools will boost the education system. But how does that even make sense? It will only boost the education of those who will actually go to those schools. If the brightest of the middle school students go to these foreign schools to become top-notch politicians, where does that leave everyone else? How are the students of regular Korean schools supposed to compete with these kids, who will have more abilities than they do, for admission to universities and jobs? The government should be providing the same education and opportunities for all students, not just a select few.
One of the reasons the government developed this plan was probably to reduce the number of students going overseas to receive a “better” education. If the ministry can see that thousands of students are going overseas because of education, shouldn’t it be trying instead to improve the Korean curriculum to make students want to stay?
More importantly, it doesn’t make sense for the government to be willing to create a new bunch of foreign schools, when it has basically said that Korean schools are not fit to produce “global leaders.” Shouldn’t they be fixing existing schools, first?
If the ministry is so concerned with international relations and developing global leaders, its officials should seek to improve the English departments in Korean schools.
They could provide better teaching materials, increase stocks of English books in libraries, and encourage schools to hire foreigners to teach English. Maybe they could even get people with better English accents to record audio questions in the practice exams they distribute to schools.
Before the ministry goes out and creates schools that will only create differences in society, the officials should also think about what they are engendering.
It is plainly ridiculous for the government to encourage Korean students to receive a foreign education. If anything, it should be encouraging the use of the Korean language.
But most importantly, it should be putting the Korean curriculum first.
If the ministry feels that the Korean education system is not good enough to produce global leaders, or thinks that the curriculum needs to be boosted in any way, it should work to improve Korean schools that are already in existence, before doing anything else. Oh Soo-young,
Sacred Heart Girls’ High School
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