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Autonomies Reinforce Education, the Solution for Province Recovery

Autonomies Reinforce Education, the Solution for Province Recovery

Posted February. 22, 2007 03:42,   


For third grade students in middle school in Mokpo who rank within the top five in their school and decide to enter high schools within Mokpo, the city plans to subsidize high school and university fees in order to prevent exceptional talents from leaving Mokpo.

246 provincial autonomies (16 metropolitan and 230 basic autonomies) have recently braced themselves for the revitalization of their local education systems. In addition to providing support for education fees through legal payments or ordinances, they are leading the recovery of education subjects based on the recognition that “the revitalization of education = a successful autonomy.”

The wide variety of educational policies being implemented by autonomies, including: overseas courses for exceptional students, the administration of education centers, the establishment of special high schools, and 100% support for education costs, will be enough to blur the boundary between an autonomy and the Offices of Education.

Forget Money Worries, Focus on Studies-

Uljin-gun, Gyeongbuk has decided to finance the entire education cost, which covers the lesson fees paid by 1,400 students of six high schools and 1,900 students of nine middle schools within Uljin from March onward. It is the first case where an autonomy has subsidized the entire education costs of local middle school and high school students.

Uljin-gun will also finance one million won scholarships for all students from 10 eups and myeons in Uljin-gun who choose to enter university.

Boeun-gun, Chungbuk will select 15 honor roll students out of the students who enter Boeun High School and Boeun Girls’ High School in March and subsidize two million won per student to send them abroad for language studies during the summer vacation period. Last year, Boeun-gun selected 32 middle school students and sent them on back-packing trips to Osaka and various other locations in Japan. It also decided to select 18 students from two schools to be granted one million won each in order to study at private education centers in Seoul over the vacation period. The subsidies and scholarships will come from a 4.6 billion won scholarship fund. The scholarship society of Yeongcheon, Gyeongbuk will provide 28 top 3% middle school students within Yeongcheon-gun, who enter local high schools, with 2 million won each, and the top student among them will receive an additional 1 million won. In addition, nine high schools were provided with 36 million won to aid them in attracting students, and 1 billion one was allocated to the establishment of Yeongcheon learning center, which is planned to open in the second half this year.

Gunwi-gun, Gyeongbuk, which plans to raise a scholarship fund of 9 billion won by the end of this year, plans to provide scholarships in 2010 for every middle school and high school student from the gun who chooses to enter university.

As a direct result of the scholarship project, in past years, Gunwi-gun has seen the majority of middle school students from the gun move on to high schools in and around the gun, while some students have even moved to Gunwi-gun from neighboring provinces such as Andong and Gumi.

From Special Extra Lessons to Health Care

430 students applied for the examination held by the Hapcheon Learning Center, run by Hapcheon-gun, Gyeongnam to select 160 exceptional students, recording a competitive rate of 2.7 to 1.

Hapcheon-gun injects 800 million won every year into the administration costs of learning centers, which includes the wages of 11 lecturers. Hapcheon-gun also provides dormitory rooms for more than 70 students from myeon regions. Ha Ssang-bok, director of the Planning and Auditing Division of Hapcheon-gun, stated, “This provision aims to avoid the yielding of high school students to other provinces. It is gaining favorable reactions since it not only suppresses the decrease of population but also lightens the burden on parents.”

Sunchang, Jeonbuk, renowned for its gochujang, spent 2 billion won in 2003 to establish Injaesuk, the first education center run by a gun in South Korea. It was an emergency action in response to the rapid decrease in the number of students from 26,000 students in 43 schools in 1974, to about 3,300 students in 25 schools at the present time.

As a result of providing education for honor roll middle and high school students in Sunchang-gun over the last five years, 22 students from Injaesuk have entered universities in the capital region, including the two who entered the Seoul National University through admission this year. It is the first time in fifteen years that someone from Sunchang has entered Seoul National University.

Jeju Island cares for the health of students by supplying eco-friendly agricultural goods to schools for their meal services. It spends 3.5 billion won to provide eco-friendly agriculture goods to 196 elementary, middle and high schools in Jeju, which accounts for 67% of the total number of schools.

Efforts made by autonomies to revitalize their education systems are not limited to entrance to universities.

Cheongdo-gun, Gyeongbuk will donate 300 million won on February 26 for the establishment of Hyangto Dormitory in Yeongnam University. Cheongdo-gun holds the right to accommodate one student per 10 million won in this dormitory, when high school students from Cheongdo enter this university. In Kyungpook National University, a dormitory was established with 200-300 million won donated by Daegu and 14 basic autonomies in Gyeongbuk province.

Daejeon City will also build a dormitory for foreign students based on the joint investment with eight universities in Daejeon that are experiencing difficulties in accommodating foreign students.

An official of Daejeon City said, “The completion of this dormitory will contribute a great deal to attracting foreign students to universities in this region by assuring foreign students of stable daily living.”

What Made Autonomies Set Forth for Education Recovery

The reason that all governors, mayors, and municipal leaders are supporting education reform is that they have come to the realization that revitalizing local education is a necessity for attracting enterprises and preventing further decreases in the population. With favorable reactions from denizens, the leaders of autonomies are even competing with one another un the development of education policies.

“If a weak structure is added to the low birth rate, there’s no way we can prevent a population decrease,” says Kim Yong-soo, magistrate of Uljin. “We are concentrating the policies on education because even the cleverest policies in other fields cannot lead to the revitalization of the region when there is recognition that the region is not good for education.”

Experts expect that if such efforts do not end up in competition to send students to top universities and pursue the revitalization of education through various policies, it will lead to the gradual contraction of the role of the Ministry of Education and Offices of Education which are monopolizing education and giving rise to various subjects of education.

“Basically, it is desirable that the provincial autonomies expand education investment and participate actively in it, but there is also the possibility of harming the independence and the specialty of education,” says Park Jong-ryeol, a professor of the Teachers` College at Kyungpook National University. “It is necessary for education specialists to advance into local assemblies and make efforts to develop various education policies that suit the particulars of each region.”