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“Public International High Schools” to be Established in 2008

“Public International High Schools” to be Established in 2008

Posted June. 14, 2005 03:03,   


“Public international high schools” will be introduced in 2008 when the current first year students of middle schools enter high schools. Those who graduate from this new type of high school can enjoy international authorization of their graduations.

In addition, science high schools that were introduced to nurture students who are especially brilliant in science will be further established and, starting from the 2008 school year, new students will be allowed to enter the schools.

The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education announced yesterday that it will build a new international high school and a science high school at the site of the former Hyehwa elementary school in Myeongnyun-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, and at the site of Gung-dong, Guro-gu. Starting from 2008 school year, 450 and 480 new students will be allowed to enter the international high school and the science high school respectively.

“As a supplementary measure of high school equalization policy, we decided to build these schools which we believe, expand students’ choices of entering high schools and strengthens special education for gifted children,” said a source from the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education. He also added, “When deciding on the sites the new schools will be built on, we considered levels of balanced development among regions.”

The Korea Teachers Union, however, resisted this policy, saying, “By 2008, two science high schools and six foreign language high schools will absorb as many as 2,749 top students in Seoul alone,” adding, “In that case, from a total of 93,000 students who can go to general high schools, the top 3 percent students will end up in these special schools.”

International schools that have been introduced for the first time in this nation are aimed at educating students who are good at foreign languages to become experts on international matters. It is hoped that this overcomes the limitations of foreign language high schools which have been criticized for their intensive focus on foreign language education.

In this school, there will be a total of 18 classes (six classes per grade) which are classified by specialty, such as international politics and diplomacy, economic cooperation, and society and culture. The number of students is about 25 per class.

The international high schools will use a curriculum authorized by international organizations for the first time as local schools, which is an outstanding feature of this action.

The organizations under consideration now are the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO), that has the membership of 1,135 schools in 116 countries worldwide as of 2004 (its headquarters is located in Switzerland), and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), an association in the U.S. that is responsible for accreditation.

A source from the Metropolitan Office of Education said, “Until now, there has been no local high school that adopts the IBO curriculum (IB program), including Busan International School, adding, “Even if we can’t introduce the IB program in 2008, we will continue to work for the adaptation of this program.”

Currently, the IB program is adopted in some foreign schools. And foreign education organizations which will be established in economics-free zones such as Incheon and Songdo plan to adopt this program. Except for Korean language, Korean history, art and physical education classes, all classes will be conducted in English.

The basic curriculum for the nation’s people in common that is introduced by the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development will be adopted for students in the first year of this new international school. In the second and third years, according to majors they pick up, students have to gain over 82 credits in their special fields.

A source from the Metropolitan Office of Education said, “Like other special high schools such as foreign language high schools, students who graduate from international high schools can enjoy preferential treatment if they choose the same major as they did in their high school when they apply for universities,” adding, “Among majors available in the coming 2005 college admissions class, the number of majors that graduates of the international high school offer can be a benefit because the same majors number as many as 24 within the Seoul area.”

Qualification for admission to this international high school is open to graduates of middle schools located in Seoul who have a good student record and high scores on an academic aptitude test. However, selecting students by holding open competition among students will be minimized to avoid a private education spending spree.

In addition, with credits gained through Advanced Placement, graduates of newly established science high schools can enter universities that are connected with their high schools. Currently, the graduates of Busan science high school can enter the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) with credits they obtained through Advanced Placement classes and tests.

Both students of international highs schools and science high schools will live in dormitories, and tuition is the same level as other public schools. Foreign students will be allowed to enter schools with special deliberation which will feature classes composed of students of various countries. The final announcement of information on admissions will be made by May 2007.

Na-Yeon Lee larosa@donga.com