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Seoul Public Schools to Get Gifted Classes by 2012

Posted January. 07, 2009 04:20,   


All elementary and middle schools in Seoul will set up classes for gifted students by 2012, the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education said yesterday.

“At least one class for gifted children will be established in 950 elementary and middle schools by 2012. The class will accommodate up to 20 students,” the office said.

Hong Deok-pyo, a school inspector for gifted education, said, “The goal is to lift the ratio of students subject to gifted education to the level of advanced countries of three to five percent from the current 0.8 percent (5,624 students).”

To meet the goal, the education office will increase the number of classes for the gifted to 382 at 175 schools.

In the capital, 141 base schools operate a combined 284 classes for gifted students. Teachers in those classes teach advanced mathematics and science and other subjects that foster creativity and cognitive ability.

Since the gifted classes in the 141 base schools are recognized by law, students in those classes will receive additional points when applying to international middle schools and foreign-language high schools.

Classes due to be set up at other schools are also expected to receive the same benefits.

Some say, however, that the move will lead to social conflict based on scholastic ability.

One parent said, “Though the purpose of increasing classes for gifted children is said to expand education for the gifted, this will eventually create disparity between the academically competent and those less competent. This will further fuel demand for private education.”

To this, a Seoul education official said, “The gifted classes in the base schools are operated as a form of afterschool activity. So they are different from classes set up according to ability.”

The education office will draw up guidelines for the gifted classes by February and distribute them to schools in the new semester, which opens in March.