True autonomy in education

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True autonomy in education

The government’s policy of giving more autonomy to high schools in an effort to diversify the curriculum and improve the quality of public education is facing some slow going.

The government had initially planned to help 100 high schools become autonomous, but that goal still seems very far away because not many high schools have applied to become autonomous due to various obstacles.

So far, only 30 high schools in the Seoul area have filed applications, according to a recent report by the Education Ministry.

It is even worse in regions outside of Seoul, where less than three high schools per city or district have applied.

In the beginning, schools seemed inclined to become autonomous, with 67 expressing interest.

The actual number of schools that have applied thus far is less than half. Some schools have even canceled their applications. For example in Gyeonggi, 12 schools showed interest, but only one actually filed an application. In South Jeolla, Ulsan and Jeju, not even one school applied.

Why, then, are self-governing high schools so unpopular?

Because of the excessive limitations being placed on student admissions. The government had originally planned to allow autonomous schools to base their admissions systems on grades, application forms and interviews, but its final decision was that students would be admitted with a drawing of lots without any exams.

The main reason the decision was made was to help parents reduce their private education expenses.

However, the plan does not give schools any voice in the admissions process since there are no interviews, which makes it difficult to evaluate students and select the most qualified.

The government should go back to basics and examine its purpose for wanting to give schools more autonomy and re-evaluate its initial goals.

Isn’t it supposed to be giving schools more freedom over administration of school affairs while removing the restrictions on the curriculum? It also seemed the goal was to boost the education sector in the long term.

All the schools want is to become autonomous without all the government restrictions and limitations, receiving support only in the form of financial aid.

The government should stop worrying about the effects of giving schools more autonomy and re-examine its original goals.

The first step would be to take a more hands-off approach and leave school administration and admissions to the schools.

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