Private schools fight stereotypes

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Private schools fight stereotypes

This page features articles written by middle and high school students participating in the Korea JoongAng Daily’s internship program. All articles were written under the guidance of our staff reporters.

After a JTBC report recently claimed that Korea’s expensive private international schools aren’t rigorous enough, students at the schools are claiming that the network is just enforcing hurtful stereotypes.

The broadcaster’s report criticized the academic program of international and foreign schools in Korea, specifically, those of international schools built in the Global Education City (GEC) in Jeju. In the JTBC reporting, the Korean assemblyman, Im Jong-sung, stated that “I think it is inappropriate to spend money to promote the class of the academic clique. Isn’t it fair to withdraw from the management of the nation, as it is feared to deepen polarization by handing over wealth and power to society?” said Im.

“I feel that my contribution is not valued. That is because I am seen as one from a privileged class,” said Huh Jung-yoon, who attends Korea International School Jeju. “Many people don’t recognize that I came to my school to avoid the relative evaluation of the Korean education system. I want to show them that my learning is as just as challenging as those of Korean public high schools. I don’t take my learning as an advantage.”

The general public believes that students who attend international and foreign schools are educated in a loose environment and take this as an advantage. Yet both domestic and foreign students do a comparable amount work as those who attend Korean public high schools. They study to their utmost potential and show their unique skills and abilities through both academics and extracurricular activities.

There are two widely known educational curriculums that distinguish the many international and foreign schools located in Korea: the AP (Advanced Placement) and IB (International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme). The AP program was founded in the United States and Canada, and requires college-level curriculum and examinations for high school students. The IB program was established in Switzerland and enables students to develop inquiry and knowledge through a sense of intercultural understanding and respect.

These high school programs provide sound educational curriculum for international and foreign schools nationwide as they push students to succeed in a way that is equivalent to those of colleges and universities unlike those of Korean public high schools; these high school educational programs pose a steep challenge to students.

Choi Ji-won, who attends North London Collegiate School, emphasizes the challenge of an IB-based curriculum.

“I feel constant pressure and stress as a student taking part in an IB-based program. The IB curriculum challenges me to educate myself through different and unique approaches instead of being overly reliant on my teachers. For instance, in math, our curriculum is about a year or 2 faster than those of a public high-school. And as for seniors, in order to graduate and receive their IB diploma certificate, they need to take the required IB exams on top of taking the SATs or ACTs and other subject tests,” said Choi.

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