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[Opinion] Performance-Based Courses

Posted December. 29, 2005 03:01,   


A new issue has emerged separating the Korean Teachers and Educational Workers’ Union (KTEWU) from educational authorities: “performance-based course shifts.”

This issue comes in the wake of the recent dispute over teacher evaluation reform.

The Ministry of Education and Human Resources announced that beginning next year, the number of performance-based courses would be expanded to include English and mathematics in the middle and high schools. To this, the KTEWU strongly announced its objection to it “in a fierce refusal.” They argued that it is discrimination of education to teach students according to their scores, which would trigger dependence on private education.

The standardization of courses means teaching both academically excellent students and those who are not in the same classroom, while shift courses allow the teaching of students according to their academic levels. This is an alternative of the education authorities, which is concerned about the “dumbing down” of education. Here, the KTEWU announced its stark opposition to the educational policy the government is to focus on.

Educating students is something both parents and the nation should be responsible for. The Constitutional Court interpreted, “Parents are obligated to educate students outside school, and the nation is obligated to educate students inside school.” The KTEWU is hampering the educational policy of the government all the time, a severe obstacle to a nation’s right to school education necessary for the nation. How long are we just going to sit back and watch this? Korea is almost the only country that supports (an organization such as the) KTEWU according to the bylaw that the education minister is to sign a collective negotiation with the union. Legal measures are urgently needed to curb the interference of KTEWU in educational policies, and to limit their scope regarding the activities related to their own agenda such as an improved working environment.

School courses satisfying no student have reduced schools to “sleeping rooms.” Teachers have no choice but to teach mediocre level courses where students with a score of 80 and those with a 40 learn in the same classroom. The idea of course shifting is to upgrade their academic performances: those with 80 to achieve a 90, and those with 40 to achieve a 60 or 70. The KTEWU criticized this “unfair division” calling it “discrimination and inequity,” but even a fool knows that the current school system itself intensifies inequity. Course shifting could give substantial help to the students from low-income families who cannot afford to go to academic institutes. The KTEWU ignores people’s rights to receive a quality education.

Hong Chan-sik, Editorial writer, chansik@donga.com