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Gov't to Abolish Elite High Schools to Level Playing Field

Write: 2019-11-07 14:56:35Update: 2019-11-08 11:32:18

Photo : YONHAP News

Anchor: The government has announced drastic education reforms that would transform the nation’s elite high schools into regular schools by 2025. The government believes that South Korea’s current education system perpetuates the socioeconomic status quo.
Kim Bum-soo has more. 

Report: The government will turn most of the nation's elite high schools into regular schools in around five years. 

The goal is to level the playing field for students in South Korea's highly competitive college admissions environment. 

Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae announced the drastic policy change on Thursday.

[Sound bite: Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae (Korean)]
"Autonomous private high schools, foreign-language high schools and international high schools, which currently account for around four percent of all high school students, shall be turned into regular high schools in March 2025. This will affect those who are now fourth graders and current students are guaranteed to receive the same education and status from before the transition until their graduation." 

The change means that prestigious autonomous private high schools, foreign-language high schools and international high schools cannot recruit students outside of their districts through rigorous selection processes. A total of around 80 such schools are currently operating around the country.

[Sound bite: Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae (Korean)]
"The problem is autonomous private high schools, foreign-language and international high schools -- accounting for about four percent of the secondary education system -- preempt excellent students, burdening them with high tuition and other educational expenses. This in turn caused the stratification of high schools into first and second classes...."

Elite high schools have been criticized by some for admitting too many students from privileged economic and social backgrounds, further boosting the competitiveness of the children of the wealthy and powerful in college admissions. 

Earlier this week, the Education Ministry said it conducted surveys to confirm the prevalence of graduates from elite high schools in early admissions to top-ranked colleges.

The decision comes in the wake of social outrage over issues surrounding former Justice Minister Cho Kuk and his family, including undue advantages his daughter allegedly enjoyed in her college early-admissions applications.  

Amid the controversy, President Moon Jae-in in September instructed officials to find ways to overhaul the admissions process at universities nationwide and pledged to pursue educational reform during his parliamentary speech the following month.
Kim Bum-soo, KBS World Radio News.

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