[Letters] Evaluating educationIn an effort to tackle excessive private education costs, the government announced various plans from prohibiting hagwon classes after 10 p.m. to restricting written tests for the entrance of foreign language high schools. The reasons why all the students are turning to private education are: 1) because everybody else does, and 2) because they can’t trust their schools. The anxiety of falling behind in the highly competitive jungle drives the students to hagwon after school. A recent survey showed that two out of three students attending foreign language high schools said they needed private education. It is nothing surprising. Also, over 60 percent of students replied “yes” to the question, “Are your hagwon teachers more qualified than your schoolteachers?”
The interesting point is that students often change their hagwon if they don’t achieve satisfactory results. This is where the competitiveness of these private institutes comes in. The teachers are always assessed, evaluated and under fierce competition. A teacher that once had hundreds of pupils could lose them all after a midterm exam. If a teacher succeeds in raising students’ scores, hundreds of students could swarm to that teacher. The amazingly abundant incentives teachers are given cause the competition among the teachers to skyrocket. Such competition must be implemented among schoolteachers. The process of becoming a teacher is difficult but once in the classrooms, many teachers seem to lose their enthusiasm.
Assessment of teachers can make a difference. Having students express feelings about teachers will encourage teachers to be more enthusiastic and passionate while also promoting development. This issue has been controversial because critics didn’t believe students would be mature enough to evaluate teachers properly. The teacher’s union is one of the strongest opponents to this idea. It is understandable that teachers may feel offended by the evaluation. However, talented teachers would have nothing to be afraid of. In my school, the foreign teachers are evaluated near the end of each year. Students fill in survey papers and freely write their opinion, including criticism of, compliments about and expectations for the teacher. This system contributes greatly to the high standard for the foreign teachers at my school since the teachers can acknowledge their mistakes and improve the next year or, in some cases, be dismissed for ineffective teaching.
It is hard to guarantee that the evaluation system will work out from the start. However, a trial-and-error approach is necessary to establish systematic and fair assessment that can then lead to less reliance and spending on private institutes and more reliable education in school.
Kim Eun, Daewon Foreign Language High