South Korea to probe corruption in international high schoolsBy Nathan Schwartzman Sep 23, 2012 11:11AM UTC
Original article in Korean is at this link.
The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education has announced that it will begin period sudies of foreigners’ schools, which have recently been the subject of much controversy over allegations of corruption in admissions.
SMOE announced on the 23rd that it will set up a system for monitoring allegations of corruption in admissions at foreigners’ schools, in collaboration with the Ministry of Science, Education, and Technology and the Offices of Education in Incheon and Gyeonggi-do.
The foreigner’s schools have broad rights of academic freedom regarding curricula, hiring of teachers, facilities, and accounting under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Private School Act, but are subject to strict regulations regarding the recruiting of students.
SMOE has decided to periodically investigate the need for the increasing number of foreigner’s schools to receive operational guidance according to their admissions rates of Koreans.
However, with little in the way of sanctions available for schools found to be in violation it will be difficult for there to be effective guidance and oversight, so the Ministry is considering proposing reforms to laws covering the foreigner’s schools.
A presidential directive on regulations governing the establishment and operation of foreigner’s scools and foreigner’s kindergartens limits the admission of Koreans to those who have been resident overseas for a three-year period, and they may not comprise more than 30% to 50% of total admissions, but there have been no rules for detecting violations.
SMOE respects the establishment goals and freedoms of the foreigner’s schools but also plans to implement an oversight system for their public character and responsibilities.
Beginning with the establishment of 서울일본인학교 in 1972 there are now 22 foreigner’s schools in the Seoul metropolitan area, but in the beginning they were established as foreign organizations under the Immigration Control Law. Since 2001 they have been established as alternative schools and as “diverse schools” under amendments to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
In 2009 a presidential directive on the establishment and operation of foreign language high schools was issued which enabled oversight by provincial and metropolitan offices of education, but up to recently the majority of foreign language high schools have experienced no episodes of such oversight.
An official with SMOE said that “since currently there is no basis in the law to do anything about schools found the be in violation the effectiveness of the studies may suffer… there is an urgent need for systemic reform regarding the guidance and oversight of these schools.”
National Assembly Representative Kim Tae-won of the New Frontier Party, and a member of the National Assembly’s committee on science, education, and technology, has released statistics received from the Ministry, according to which 9 out of 49 foreigner’s schools in Korea had student bodies with Koreans exceeding 30%. Foreign students outnumbered Korean students in just 12 of the schools, or 24.5%.
At one school the total yearly tuition including lesson fees, admissions fees, and dormitory fees exceeded 38.93 million won, and at another school the fee for lessons alone was 24.62 million won, Rep. Kim said, calling them “schools for aristocrats.”