For several years, a growing number of people have argued for the abolishment of foreign language high schools. In 2017, the issue became a commitment by President Moon during his campaign and a promise he hopes to fulfill. This talk has sparked controversy among Sookmyungians on Everytime, the school’s online community bulletin board. While some students praise the schools as great chances to learn other nation languages fluently, others worry about school ranking. In order to hear more on the topic, The Sookmyung Times asked two students their opinions on this issue.
Foreign language high schools should be abolished
Department of English Language & Literature’ 17
The government has encountered its first major conflict and it’s connected to education policy. The government insisting that foreign high schools are unnecessary in Korea has decided to close them. However, many people disagree. Personally, I agree with the government. First, the schools have lost their original purposes. In the past, the schools were educational facilities that fostered the learning and mastering of a foreign language. However, today they have become big hakwons (afterschool academy). Most of the foreign language high schools are solely elite university preparatory schools. They are expensive to enter and have expensive yearly tuition costs. In other words, the schools have lost their fundamental reason for existing. Teachers are only interesting in successfully having their pupils enter prestigious universities. As a result, they have lost their identity and need to close. Second, foreign language high schools are the reasons high schools are ranked. It is illegal to rank high schools in Korea, but the general public knows a school’s ranking just by its name. Because students at foreign language high schools spend a lot of money on their studies, universities and society view students from these schools as being more intelligent. In other word, the school attains a high ranking without being offi cially ranked. However, education needs to be fair for all. Students need to be evaluated equally. There are reasons for keeping foreign language high schools exist, but I personally feel the fact that foreign language high schools have lost their initial purpose is reason enough for their closure. Korean needs to promote equality in education and not allow preparatory schools to exist as they give unfair advantage to only a few. Therefore, I agree with the government’s policy.
Department of Mathematics’ 14
One of the new government's education policies is to dissolve foreign language high schools. Foreign language high schools are schools that teach advanced English and other languages to its students. Since the government announced its plan to abolish their existence, huge protests have been popping up across the peninsula with people raising their voice against the policy. The abolition of foreign language high schools deprives students of the right to develop their language talent. According to the 2015 national curriculum, the most important purpose of an education is for students to foster their talents and dreams. Foreign language high schools give students who are interested in languages a place to explore and develop their dreams and talents. Abolishing foreign language high schools limits students’ right to choose their educational path. Uniform education robs students of the opportunity to follow their dreams. Second, the abolition of foreign language high schools will lead to increased private education. The absence of an educational school that nurtures one’s ability in a certain language will surely give rise to students attending more and more academies after school to learn the language they want. For example, some students are interested in learning Russian, but rarely is Russian a second language option at regular high schools; hence, they will be forced into private education. This is also the case for English. A number of students wish to receive more advanced English language lessons than is taught in standardized curriculums at regular high schools. These students will also have to satisfy their intellectual desires through private education. Finally, abolishing foreign language schools is not solution for Korea’s educational divide, it is because the quality of classes is different, so it is better to increase the quality of daily class. Instead of focusing only on the problems presumed caused by foreign language high schools, people should look to their benefi ts and the dreams of the students at those schools. There is a need to dig deeper and attack problems from inside; that is, there needs to be more control of the management of foreign language high schools and changes to their school policies like student admissions and curriculum requirements.