Go to contents

“Let’s Educate Students Who Do Well in Their Studies”

“Let’s Educate Students Who Do Well in Their Studies”

Posted July. 29, 2004 22:10,   


Regarding this matter, controversy is becoming fiercer as some schools welcomed it, saying, “We can guide students more responsibly,” while educational organizations, including the Korean Teacher’s Union (KTU), strongly opposed it by stating, “It is an un-educational policy that burdens students with learning even more.”

At the superintendent election held on July 28, Mr. Gong was elected over another candidate who received recommendations from 15 educational organizations including the KTU.

“Improvement of Scholastic Ability is First and Foremost”—

It was while Superintendent Yu abolished mid-term and final-term examinations in elementary schools in 1997 that report cards, assessed alphabetically by “ABCDE,” disappeared from elementary schools in Seoul. During that time, the present essay-type assessment first started in Seoul and spread nationwide in 1998.

Due to this matter, it is likely that other parts of the country will be affected in case report cards are revived in Seoul.

Moreover, Gong’s plan is to induce competition by putting assessment into effect in elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as assessment classified by schools. Although the result of the assessment will not be disclosed, it will be applied in helping to guide students.

The part where the elected Gong differs from Superintendent Yu lies in introducing an independent-type private high school and expanding special-purpose high schools.

Superintendent Yu strongly opposes the introduction of an independent-type private high school and the additional construction of special-purpose high schools, which led to discord with the Seoul Metropolitan government that pursued the policy to construct special-purpose high schools within New Town. However, Gong indicated his plans to carry out 1-2 models of independent-type private schools in the Seoul area and to expand special-purpose high schools; it seems that the plan to construct special-purpose high schools within New Town will advance without difficulty.

The elected Mr. Gong expanded the common school district where students can apply to schools, and gave each school the authority to carry out “zero period” lessons and self-directed learning on their own. However, “zero period” lessons are prohibited by the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development, and it is highly probable that carrying this out will cause friction with the Ministry of Education.

Aside from this, not so few controversies are expected as Mr. Gong also has plans to establish a new relationship with the private education sector by making academies a supplement for public education and not as a target for regulation, and discussing this issue with the Academy Association.

Mixed Response—

Concerning this educational policy by Mr. Gong, leading schools and education-related organizations took contradicting stances on July 29.

Principle Lee Seung-won of Daebang Elementary School in Seoul was positive in his evaluation, stating, “In the case of an essay-type assessment, there are many cases where it is difficult for parents to recognize their children’s scholastic abilities,” and added, “It is advisable to open up the way so that the present assessment method is diversely supplemented by each school.”

Vice-principal Lee Joon-soon of Yangjae High School in Seoul evaluated, “By strengthening the school’s discretionary rights, teachers will become tenser and guide students more responsibly.”

On the other hand, Park In-ok, group leader of the “National Parents’ Committee for True Education,” resisted by saying, “Amidst our situation, where students suffer early on starting from elementary school due to an education focused on passing the entrance exam, the students’ burden will only increase if assessment is revived.”

In addition, the KTU stated, “It is not only hard for the educational policy that only trains a few students who do well at school to obtain assistance from teachers and parents, but is inevitable from a face-to-face collision standpoint with education and civil organizations.”

Hyo-Lim Son aryssong@donga.com