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Education Ministry to Lift Ban on Extra-School Classes

Posted April. 16, 2008 03:26,   


A government restriction on ‘0 class’ or before-school classes or late-night, after-school classes placed on elementary, middle and high schools will be lifted and levels of classes for all grades will be offered.

Schools will be able to resort to for-profit organizations, such as a private cram school or prep-book publisher, for their after-school programs used to teach subjects, such as English and math in after-school classes for elementary schools, will be allowed. To now, only extra-curricular activities were permitted.

The previous government banned the collective subscription of children’s newspapers in elementary schools, but this ban will be lifted as well.

On Tuesday, the Education and Science Ministry announced a ‘plan for school autonomy’ that eliminates the government’s comprehensive governance of primary and secondary schools, phasing out rules and guidelines in three steps.

Primary and Secondary Education Rule 7, which grants the education and science minister to have comprehensive supervision over schools, will be abolished and all related rules that were placed on schools will also be lifted.

The ministry decided to eliminate 29 regulations, including a ban on before-school and after-school programs (after 7 p.m.), immediately.

The limits on multi-level classes, which were allowed for a few subjects, such as English and math for 7th to 10th graders, will be lifted. Meanwhile, middle and high schools will be allowed to hold various classes tailored to the level of the students’ capabilities for all subjects.

Multi-level classes are necessary for excellence in education but a backlash from parents are likely if the classes are managed in a way similar to the past when it was a tool to separate better-performing students from under-performing students.

The ban on comprehensive measures for academic record management, such as the mandatory release of test questions to prevent schools from inflating scores and a ban on mock tests published by private institutions outside of school, will be eliminated. Other limitations on the guidelines for the choice of prep books, extra-curricular education guidelines and the guide for teaching during the period after students take the Korean SAT, will be removed, as well.

The limits on after-school programs, in which only non-profit organizations were allowed to participate, will be lifted and schools will be able to hire private cram schools or other private institutions.

Theoretically, schools were to be able to form multi-level classes, have before-school programs and have their students tested with mock tests made by other institutions outside of the school.

However, the Education Ministry said that local education offices would come up with and announce their own appropriate plans.

As local education offices have supervisory rights over schools, the ban on extraordinary after-school programs and the creation of classes based on ability can remain unchanged.

The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education will announce a comprehensive plan in response to the ministry’s announcement to deregulate on Friday. Other city administrations are also coming up with their own measures.

The ministry will revise 13 related rules in June by placing personnel management authority with superintendents to strengthen school independence.

“The core of this plan is to ease regulations. We will decide whether local superintendents grant full autonomy to schools or education offices will make appropriate management guidelines,” said Vice Education Minister Woo Hyung-shik. “Local education offices have formed task force teams and are now discussing measures.”