Fixing elite international schoolsSomething that never should have happened took place on school grounds. A vice principal from Younghoon International Middle School, who was under investigation for orchestrating admission fraud, hanged himself over the weekend. The man left a suicide note saying that his actions were wrong even if they were done for the good of the school.
It is shocking that an educator who should serve as a role model for schoolchildren killed himself on school premises. After his death, the school announced a two-day break, but we are still extremely worried about the potential impact this tragedy could have on students in their sensitive teenage years.
The international school’s slogan is “Be innocent and have a bright heart.” Students there have been taught to bear innocence and optimism. However, the school did not abide by such aspirations in practice, according to shocking findings by the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education.
The school’s vice principal and other administrators are suspected of tampering with admission papers and scores in order to grant special favors to a specific group of students. They reportedly gave unusually high or low scores for references and on other subjective sections. The head of the administration has been arrested for taking bribes from parents in return for accepting their children.
The vice principal who committed suicide was summoned by the prosecution on two separate occasions. It is unclear whether it was the immense psychological pressure from the investigations or his guilt that led to his suicide. But the reason for the tragic end seems evident. We must blame the immoral greed of some private schools.
They illicitly raise money in the name of school development by selling admission to the wealthy. This, combined with the selfishness of some parents, creates an ugly equation. It is true that some parents will do absolutely anything to get their children into elite schools.
However, it is unclear what the vice principal meant when he wrote “I thought that my actions were for the good of the school, but it was wrong.” And the recipients of the money pocketed by the admission department were not disclosed and remain a mystery.
Given the reputation of the school as a venue to raise globally minded students in the 21st century, the prosecution must get to the bottom of the case in order to prevent corruption from further tainting the image of international schools that aspire to foster global leaders. Otherwise, the name of justice in education will never be recovered.