Crack down on YounghoonYounghoon International Middle School turned out to have manipulated admission test scores of as many as 867 students over the last four years, accepting 14 students into its halls in a fraudulent way. The prosecution announced yesterday that such shameful malpractices at the school were far more serious than what the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education had found in an initial inspection. President of the Younghoon School Foundation, Kim Ha-ju, allegedly took 100 million won ($89,206) in bribes from a parent in return for admitting her child, while other officials went so far as to fabricate admissions test scores of orphaned students - in order to keep the poor kids out of the prestigious school.
Though the middle school was established with the goal of nurturing global talent and helping students who studied overseas at earlier ages, it is still an institution for compulsory education, which means that it is responsible for treating and educating its students equally, irrespective of their social or economic status and according to their abilities. But the middle school opted to throw away the fundamental values of education as evidenced by the prosecution’s investigation results. The education authorities must strongly punish the school for its dereliction of duty to prevent any such recurrence.
However, the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education’s follow-up measures fell way short of our expectations. It promised that it will wrap up the case by replacing the entire board of the school’s foundation with new faces and transfer students with suspicious admission records to other schools in Seoul. The Seoul education office explained that it’s impossible to cancel the designation of the school as an international middle school before June 2015 because the Law on Primary and Secondary Education stipulates that the metropolitan education office can decide the future of the school after assessing its performance every five years since June 2010. But such an explanation will likely rouse the people’s distrust of international middle schools.
The Law on Primary and Secondary Education clearly states that the superintendent of the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education can close down a school if the principal or founder or president violates the law intentionally. The authorities must retract the designation of the school as an international middle school, if not shut it down, given the massive potential damages it has inflicted on innocent students in the school. Moon Yong-lin, the head of the Seoul education office, must make the right decision.