Posted March. 29, 2005 22:44,
There is no progress in the governments plan to open the education market and attract prestigious foreign educational institutions to Korea. As a member of WTO, Korea cannot ignore demands regarding the opening of the education market. Moreover, more voices within the country are calling for the opening of the educational market to resolve education issues and strengthen competitiveness.
However, opening a foreign school in the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and running a joint degree system with foreign universities are the only suggestions the government has drawn up, and even those have come up against a wall. The Act on Foreign Education Institutions within the SEZ submitted to the National Assembly last year by the Education Ministry has not even been sent to the Legislation and Judiciary Committee over the last 10 months because of opposition from some ruling party legislators. Some younger-generation lawmakers of the ruling party are preventing the passage of this act.
They oppose the act, citing that allowing the enrollment of Korean nationals will bring down the domestic public education system. In the case of the Songdo Economic Zone, the foreign school can accommodate 4,000 students, and their argument loses persuasion as only part of these students will be domestic students.
The legislators are of the opinion that diplomas of domestic students graduating from the foreign school cannot be acknowledged to be the same as those of domestic grade schools. Under such restrictive conditions, no foreign school will come to Korea. The lawmakers would be more frank if they demanded that Korea keep its education market doors closed. It is also hard to understand why a policy has to be deadlocked just because some education groups and lawmakers oppose the idea.
Despite the depressed economy, the number of students leaving at an early age to study abroad from Seoul reached an all time high last year. They are even willing to take the risks stemming from studying abroad at an early age. This is because parents believe that even with the risks, it is better for their childrens futures to study abroad than in Korea. The younger-generation lawmakers are, in effect, inducing more students to leave. The number of students studying abroad will decrease once there is an actual opening of our education market.
It is deplorable that obscure ideology is leading to an obstinacy that turns away from a strengthening of economic competitiveness, nurturing of human resources, and an invigorating injection of foreign investment.