[Letters] Wrongheaded education policy

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[Letters] Wrongheaded education policy

Regarding “Closing the education gap”, [Editorial, April 17], it is absurd to suggest that an egalitarian education system leads to widening gaps in education. More than anything, this severe education gap has been caused not by the egalitarian education system but by the demolition of that system.

As a matter of fact, that system has existed in name only. Private foreign language high schools springing up like mushrooms sweep away superb students from middle schools and well-off parents rush to places such as Gangnam in Seoul that boast many “top-notch” high schools [to give their children an edge] for university entrance.

Also, after the economic crisis of 1997, drastic escalation of economic disparity has exacerbated the gap in private education spending among households, which has resulted in severe competition for educational opportunities.

Before howling for boosting student achievement and competitiveness, we should keep in mind that our education system is full of competition, choking students, parents and teachers. It is as clear as daylight that competition between schools results in competition among students. Korean students have been overwhelmed by too much stress and severe competition, so a lot of students are suffering psychological problems these days. Competition-centered education is damaging our students’ minds.

The average achievements of Korean students are superb, which has been proven by the annual international PISA test result, in which Korea ranks second following Finland. The interesting thing is that Finland’s education system is not based on competition but on cooperation.

We should set our goals of education with prudence. Our society needs creative individuals with sound bodies and able minds. However, our education system doesn’t seem to work to produce those individuals, only to bring up test machines.

Education policies such as a nationwide test or competition between schools are really expedient policies to show quick results. We should remember that the results of education can’t appear in just one or two years. The government should focus on bringing up more creative students, not beefing up pointless competition. Our government should know that a lot of citizens worry about the direction of our education system. We need to change that direction now before it’s too late.

Kim Hee-young, Seoul
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