The Korean parliament is set to decide on a Bill to ban all private education outside the state system in Korea.
The private education market is worth around 18 billion dollars, but it is at odds with the Korean President’s policy of promoting the state education system.
The Bill, if passed, would ban so-called “advanced learning” (or private tuition) of the state curricula which would include English.
Although not directly banning English schools, the bill would also ban any advertising by private schools so many would suffer.
However, the state system does not tutor students well enough, and admissions tests to university and high schools often ask questions which are simply haven’t been learnt in the state schools.
But rather than increase the standard of state education and so remove the need for advanced learning, the Bill aims to reduce the requirements for state education to make advanced learning redundant.
Abroad the Korean system of private tuition is well regarded whilst at home it is thought of badly and all pervasive with even kindergarten aged children being targeted for extra learning. Students being pressured into work and ending each day exhausted is a common problem.
Quite frankly this is ridiculous. Private schools exist to fill a gap in the state education system. If you ban them, the gap still exists.
If the country wants to improve the standard of state education, this is fine… and if the state education system is good enough, private schools will fall by the wayside naturally.
But closing the private sector and not improving the state education sector to cover the loss will only lead to one thing: Korea losing its enviable 5th placed position on the international education tables.
TEFL Teachers in Korea
There are currently some 16,000 foreign English teachers in Korea and no doubt the closing of the many private English schools would reduce this number.
However, the Bill could be a good thing for those teachers.
If the private schools close, the state schools will employ many more English native speakers than it currently does. This means that good English teachers will be in demand in Korea and they will find pay and conditions set by the state and much more attractive and regulated than they currently are!
Korea 5th in International Education – report from the Telegraph on international education standards
WSJ Article on Private Education in Korea – from the Wall Street Journal[ratings]