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Crackdown on High Lesson Fees

Posted December. 03, 2004 23:07,   


“Cheong Wa Dae ordered to shut down 100 private institutions in the affluent district of Gangnam, Seoul.”

“Private institutions who do not agree to a resolution to lower lesson fees will face scrutiny.”

The government aggressively took initiatives in lowering lesson fees after announcing it would consider expensive private institutes as encroaching on the people’s economy, which made the private institute industry increasingly anxious.

Since it started cramping down on the industry in November, in Seoul alone, the operation of 38 institutes was suspended for more than a week. Amid the government’s move, the education authorities, without providing any standard for the clampdown, have emphasized only voluntary reduction of fees, which invited such “rumors.”

Unsettled Private Institute Industry-

The Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development on Tuesday called a meeting with relevant officers from 16 cities’ and provinces’ Offices of Education in order to persuade institutes to voluntarily reduce their lesson fees.

However, most institutes are anxious about the amount of fee reduction necessary to avoid scrutiny from the government.

Rumors spread in the Gangnam area, saying, “AA institution is already suspended,” and, “Those who voluntarily participate in the resolution will be exempt from the crackdown through this December.”

Some argue, “It is the government’s intention to shut down expensive institutes as they have done to the sex trade industry, given that it generated eight cases of encroachment on the people’s economy.”

The president of P institute in Gangnam said, “Whenever I inquired to the Office of Education about the standard and principles of the scrutiny, it answered, ‘The reduction of fees should be autonomously done by each institute, just ask the Korea Association of Hakwons.’ But, when I questioned the association, its district offices came up with different answers.”

The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education reportedly set a 690,000 won limit for English kindergartens and a 150,000 won limit for one-subject classes in general institutes in the Gangnam area. In other areas, English kindergartens will face the same standard as Gangnam institutes. However, the limit for lesson fees per subject in other places will be less than 150,000 won.

Will the Fee be Reduced?-

Education in English kindergartens in Gangnam usually cost between 0.9 and one million won a month. However, some places require 1.5 million won a month for their lessons.

These expensive institutes have voluntarily reduced their fees.

C kindergarten in Seocho-gu, Seoul has received 930,000 won a month for its lesson fee through this past November, but reduced it to 690,000 won a month beginning in December. It announced a one-hour reduction of its regular class hour, which used to end at 2:30 p.m., starting in March, creating two 45-minute extra classes as electives. However, the fee for each course costs 130,000 won. If a student takes two electives at the same time, the total fee will be 260,000 won, which is similar to the previous fees.

Some Institutes are Resorting to Expedient Means by Raising Incidental Expenses-

A parent, 34 years old who lives in Apgujeong-dong, Gangnam, Seoul, said, “English kindergartens have lowered their lesson fees. However, they have charged new costs such as vehicle services and teaching equipment costs, and have also raised the snack and entrance fees.”

Excuses from the Private Institutes-

Some institutes argued, “It is hard to lower the fees due to high labor expenses for qualified teachers and rental expenses.”

The president of an English kindergarten said, “We are hiring native teachers with teaching certificates. If we lower the fee, we will not be able to make both ends meet.”

An official from K institute that offers programs for high school students insisted, “We have to pay three to four million won a month for one teacher with rent costing nine million won.” He added, “Reduction of the fee will harm the quality of teachers.”