New plan details restrictions on teaching material in advance

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New plan details restrictions on teaching material in advance

The Ministry of Education yesterday announced a detailed plan concerning how it will prohibit schools from preparing exam questions that contain material from the upcoming semester.

The move, in line with President Park Geun-hye’s campaign pledge, is intended to reduce students’ reliance on private institutes, or hagwons, and restrict educators from teaching material that jumps ahead in the standard curriculum or deviates from the current subject matter.

It also aims to address problems stemming from uncontrolled private education, which weakens the public education system and financially burdens parents.

However, the plan, scheduled to go into effect from September, has resulted in a backlash from teachers as well as education-conscious parents and students. Some education experts and teachers expressed skepticism over the effectiveness of the proposal, given that the new law steers clear of taking measures against hagwons, which provide advanced-learning courses.

Schools will also be banned from teaching materials that gets ahead of the stated curriculum of certain semesters.

Those in 12th grade - the year before college - will be exempt from the law because of the college entrance exam in November, which allows students to learn second-semester material in the first semester.

Schools found violating the new law will face losing government subsidies or may be forced to curb the number of students, the Ministry of Education said.

The Education Ministry also noted that primary schools should teach English starting in third grade. However, teaching English through songs and other activity-based learning will be allowed.

“First- and second-graders will not be allowed to learn English on school premises even in extra-curricular classes,” said Ryu Jeong-seob of the Education Ministry.

Education experts lashed back at the seemingly restrictive policy, saying it would further trigger private learning. “Chances are students will flock to hagwons that offer pre-learning courses if schools don’t offer advanced-learning opportunities,” said Hwang Byeong-won, a teacher at Gangseo High School.

The Education Ministry said that if schools don’t give exams based on material in upcoming semesters, the demand for advanced-learning courses at hagwons would be reduced.

“We expect students and parents to take less care about studying in advance now that schools won’t deal with advanced material,” Ryu said.


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