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Transfer Students Eyeing Foreign Language High Schools

Posted April. 23, 2009 09:01,   


"Ah-yeong," a 15-year-old who lives in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, starts her day by putting on earphones and sleeping in a bus every morning. She rides for 50 minutes on the bus and then transfers to another at Seoul`s Gangnam subway station to arrive at school on time.

It takes her more than an hour to go to school. Two months ago, it took her only 10 minutes.

Ah-yeong asked her parents earlier this year if she could transfer to a school in Seoul when she heard that the Education, Science and Technology Ministry banned students from other cities or regions from applying for high schools in Seoul.

She wanted to go to Daewon Foreign Language High School since she was in her third year of middle school. “It wouldn’t be a problem if I cannot go to the school that I want because of ability, but I thought I`d regret it if I can’t go to the school I want just because I live in another region,” she said.

Though she attends a school in Seoul, she still lives in Suwon. Her family’s official address is her aunt’s home in Seoul.

Ah-yeong’s mother said, “I am looking for a studio apartment to support her.”

A student living in provinces like Ah-yeong must transfer to a new school by Oct. 31 to get into foreign language high schools in Seoul.

“I thought others might not notice why I transferred because many students transfer at the beginning of the semester. I have more friends who want to transfer in my neighborhood,” she said.

Many questions asking about school transfers are posted on an Internet café, a popular place among students who want to study at special purpose high schools.

According to the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education, the number of students who transferred middle schools in Seoul`s Gangnam district from non-Seoul areas thi month increased 25.9 percent year-on-year. The number of ninth graders has increased 30 percent.

The figure of ninth graders (43.5 percent) at Seoul`s Gangdong district covering Songpa and Gangdong wards was much higher than that of all students (27.1 percent).

Many students are flocking to Gangnam because they believe they can still go to good high schools, if not special purpose ones. A source from the Gangnam District Office of Education said, “We are trying to screen out students who transferred illegally through checking their residences.”

Other people are bending rules to get around the tought transfer schools. Many parents try to send their children to other cities such as Gangwon, Gwangju and Ulsan with no foreign language schools. Students living in those areas as well as in Seoul can apply for foreign language schools in Seoul. Since rent is relatively cheaper there than Seoul, some prefer to go to those areas.

A parent who plans to send her child to Wonju, Gangwon Province, said, “It is difficult to get private education, but it`d be no problem if one studies alone on weekdays and take private courses on weekends.”

“Limiting the selection of a school to a certain region deprives students of the right to get the education that they want,” said a parent who gave up on a transfer due to economic reasons. “Education policies always change overnight, so I hope for another change in attitude by decision makers.”