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[Editorial] Language School Entry Criteria Revised

Posted June. 21, 2006 03:05,   


Recently, Kim Jin-pyo, the deputy prime minister and minister of education and human resources development, announced that middle school graduates will not be able to apply for foreign language high schools located outside of their city or province. It has been reported that this will take into effect in 2008. Also, if the rate of students applying to language-related majors remains low, several foreign language high schools will change into normal high schools, and they will only be able to allow students according to the school group system. The government has already deteriorated the autonomy of schools by forcing the revision of the private school reform law. Now, it is taking steps to “bash foreign language high schools,” which are focusing on elite education.

Kim said, “It is impossible to bring about innovation in the education sector with the current high school system. However, foreign language high schools or independent private high schools are not a solution.” He has come up with an idea of a “publicly-managed innovation high-school,” which is completely unfamiliar to the public. Therefore, it is quite doubtful whether many parents will risk their children’s future by sending them to this model school that reminds them of the “innovation” slogan of President Roh. The education officials have expressed their concerns, saying, “We cannot understand why the government is trying to do things it cannot afford.”

Kim and President Roh have always been loyal to the ideas of the Korea Teachers & Education Workers’ Union. When President Roh mentioned “easing polarization,” Kim wasted no time to show his opposition to independent private high schools. It seems that the recent policy Kim announced is another idea showing his position. Also it is just another idea to “bash Gangnam” considering the fact that if the announcement takes effect, students who live in Gangnam-gu and Seocho-gu will have no way to apply for foreign language high schools since there are none in those districts. If the law had been effective several years earlier, Kim’s own daughter, who is a graduate of Daewon Foreign Language High School, would have had to attend a normal high school.

The current high school equalization system is partly unconstitutional given that it infringes on the “right to be educated according to one’s academic capability.” Foreign language high schools were established to complement the equalization of education by allowing smart students to choose the schools they want to attend. However, if the government starts a regulation in the education sector suddenly, it will seriously undermine the rights of students to learn according to their academic ability. In industrialized countries, governments are revolutionizing the education sector by giving more autonomy to schools, but the Korean government is doing exactly the opposite. In this way, there is a possibility that many students will choose to study in oversea countries in the future. In other words, the government will see an exodus of bright students rather than more competitive public education.

The current administration has already overly expanded its line and limited the freedom and basic rights of the public by the revised private school reform law and newspaper law. Also, it has already put the public into an economic chaos. If Kim implements his ideas, it will bring about a disastrous result; meddling in the nurturing of talented students, who will become the leaders of Korea, by placing excessive regulations on foreign language high schools, which have been proved to be successful. In this way, Kim, who is mainly in charge of the economic and education sector, will be remembered as the “most malicious enemy of state” of the Roh administration.