[Letters] Competitive education
Koreans’ obsession with private education comes from society’s emphasis on competitiveness. Indeed, competitiveness should be fostered for the sake of Korea’s own development and increased contribution to international society. Accordingly, people’s expenditure on private tutoring will not decrease as long as people are passionate about developing their children to excel above others - or to be straightforward, to put their children in better universities. The cause of the problem lies in the way Koreans pursue education, not on the fundamental thought that competitiveness is the key to success.
The government should change the way it approaches the private education issue. The government should not forget that education has positive externalities. Hence, rather than giving penalties, which cause deadweight loss and social inefficiency, it should provide private institutions with per unit subsidies. Limiting operation hours and giving penalties address only the outside of the problem.
Exposing the private institutions to a market of perfect or nearly perfect competition will enhance the quality of education and decrease the cost for private institutions.
Of course, to ensure that the institutes are in perfect market competition through legal means, the government should develop provisions that institutes can conform to when facilitating the hagwon and provide subsidies and kudos to those that operate within the guidelines. By doing so, consumers can prevent themselves from spending on flawed private educators with no qualifications and low teaching efficiency. In brief, the government can ensure practicality in both private education markets and consumers.
Also, there is a need for consumers of private institutes to change their attitude toward spending. In Korea, education is the most obvious example of the bandwagon effect - parents spend on private institutions just because other parents do. They should rather focus on specializing or pursuing their children’s specific interest and aptitude. This will increase the efficiency of parents’ spending since there are more chances of success for students in unexplored fields with less competition.
Also, students will feel less burdened as they don’t have to struggle in a field that they have no interest in. This will make parents become more responsible for the future of children through the proper way of spending on education.
Seongnam Foreign Language High School student