[PRO] The practice needs to stop*How do we regulate advanced learning?
Debates flared over whether a law should be created to regulate advanced learning, where students are exposed to subjects years above their grade level. President-elect Park Geun-hye has spoken out against advanced-learning practices. During the presidential debate, she also made public her plan to legislate a law to bar the practice. The following are the pros and cons.
Our group has demanded a law be established to bar advanced learning for the past year by creating a petition and holding demonstrations. We are not asking for a law that bars a student from advanced learning on his or her own. We are demanding that advanced-learning programs in schools and hagwon, or private cram schools, be prevented. Furthermore, we want the law to regulate school exams and admission tests that include questions outside the school curriculum that encourage advanced learning.
Those protesting the law all agree that the programs are bad. But there is a difference in opinion whether it can be regulated through a law or not. Even cram school officials have no disagreement that school exam questions should be regulated under the law, so the key will be regulating advanced-learning education programs.
Some say that advanced-learning programs in private cram schools cannot be regulated in a liberal market. But we are not asking all private education programs to be regulated but to bar only “substandard” education practices. While substandard food products are banned by the country under the food safety law, why can’t we regulate substandard education programs that destroy our children’s spirits?
Others also argue that the law won’t be effective because it will be hard to enforce it. They said private-tutor education programs can’t be prevented, thus it would fuel another market. The argument is true but it is a part that needs to be modified after the law is introduced. It cannot be the reason for stopping the legislation.
If we cannot adopt the law to regulate advanced-learning programs because of that reason, we must think about many existing laws that are ineffective. An example is a ban on watching digital multimedia broadcasting while driving, which was approved recently. Is it possible for the law enforcement authority to enforce the law effectively? It will be difficult, but the law was created because it is a serious issue. We must create a law first when there is a need in the society and work together to improve the effectiveness of its implementation.
Some also said schools teach at a different speed so advanced learning cannot be banned altogether. That will be true for high schools, but curriculums for middle and elementary schools don’t vary from one school to another. There is no problem with banning advanced learning until middle school. Other remaining problems should be handled by establishing monitoring organs in the city and provincial education offices to create realistic standards and implement them.
Establishing a law to ban advanced learning is unavoidable. Laws are intended to lessen the pain of the minorities. Our children are exposed recklessly to advanced learning and public education has been ruined. An advanced-learning program to teach high school sophomore-level English to a first grader in elementary school is being sold on the market. And it is deplorable that we have no law to correct this. We must resolve technical shortcomings during the course of establishing the law and implementing it. It is undesirable to just give up on the legislation because of shortcomings.
The time for the law is now. In a survey, about 60 percent of people said they support this law and President-elect Park Geun-hye also promised that she will establish a law to ban advanced learning. She also stressed that school exams will be regulated as well as advanced learning itself. The people will wait and see if she will follow through with the promise.
*The author is co-head of civic organization “No Worry for Private Education.”
By Song In-su