Pilot school programs where little gets done

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Pilot school programs where little gets done

BUSAN - Schools in Korea are being set up as pilot schools for research in a program supported by the Education Ministry, but little research is happening, despite billions of won being spent on the programs.

Take, for example, a school identified as “A,” by the Busan Education Office. A teacher identified as “B” registered as a researcher, which grants him extra points as a promotion, but he never did any research. Another teacher, identified as “C” supposedly took part in research for B. And, dinner get-togethers for the teachers to discuss their “research” totaled 1 million won ($927).

A pilot school for research is a school supported by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, along with government organizations such as regional education offices or the Ministry of Environment, whose goal is developing exemplary cases of good education and better teaching methods as well as developing textbooks.

In Busan, about 7.3 billion won in public tax money was spent since last year to operate about 300 pilot schools for research, according to the JoongAng Ilbo. Critics say such projects waste the public money while failing to bring about effective outcomes.

“The Education Ministry and education offices have injected too much public funds into research schools that have no effectiveness,” said Lee Il-gwon, a member of the Busan City Council. “A nationwide examination of research schools and alternative measures is necessary.”

The Busan Education Office said on Tuesday that 267 schools were designated as pilot schools for research purposes in 2010 and more were added this year. Now, 290 schools in Busan are managed as research schools.

An average of 10 million won is distributed annually to each school in support funds and becomes a pilot school for six months to three years.

With 986 schools in Busan, one third of the schools in Busan are designated as research schools. About 5.8 billion won in tax money was spent last year and another 1.5 billion won this year. And this is not only the case in Busan - similar amounts of funds are being spent in cities and provinces throughout the country.

The problem is that the initial purpose of research schools is lost while failing to fulfill the purpose of spreading developed education systems.

By We Sung-wook [sharon@joongang.co.kr]
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