South Korea’s chief has initiated a marketing campaign towards difficult examination questions and after-school cram centres, however activists argue that true training reforms will solely be efficient if the federal government addresses the extreme competitors confronted by youngsters making an attempt to realize admission to high universities, in keeping with a report in South China Morning Put up (SCMP). The transfer has additionally hit to college students onerous 5 months earlier than the essential college entrance assessments.
In current weeks, officers have cracked down on after-school examine websites, referred to as hagwon, and carried out tax raids on main centres the place college students keep until late at evening to arrange for essential college entrance exams.
These actions have been prompted by President Yoon Suk-yeol’s criticism of the inclusion of “killer questions” within the notoriously troublesome SATs, or Suneung. Expressing concern, President Yoon stated that it was “extraordinarily unfair and unjust” to check college students on subjects that weren’t coated within the official curriculum.
He accused the training authorities and personal tutoring trade of colluding and functioning like “cartels”. In response, the training ministry launched a web-based platform to report irregularities associated to non-public tutoring, together with deceptive ads, inflated charges, and alleged connections with SAT query setters, stated the SCMP report.
In keeping with a 2021 report by the Seoul Metropolitan Bureau of Training, over 100 Seoul colleges have been discovered to have posted false or deceptive ads and acquired warnings or fines because of this.
Tax authorities additionally carried out unannounced investigations on the nation’s high three cram colleges, together with the biggest one known as Megastudy. The presidential workplace warned that hagwon suspected of tax evasion or different irregularities would face authorized penalties.
Megastudy reported a 19 per cent improve in annual gross sales to $635 million final yr, with working income surging 36 per cent. In 2022, there have been roughly 85,000 hagwons throughout South Korea.
The pinnacle of Megastudy, Son Ju-eun, dismissed allegations of collusion between the personal tutoring trade, public training authorities, and those that set the SAT paper. Son acknowledged that the personal tutoring trade thrived in response to modifications within the SATs, particularly the inclusion of difficult “killer questions”.
Son additionally predicted that the personal tutoring market, value $16.7 billion final yr and accounting for 1 per cent of the nation’s complete GDP, would decline as a result of South Korea’s low start charge. The variety of births dropped from round 400,000 in 2016 to 290,000 final yr.
President Yoon’s criticism of “killer questions” has triggered anxiousness amongst college students and oldsters, particularly because it comes simply months earlier than the essential annual assessments in November.
Whereas some consider eradicating these questions would negatively affect the top-performing college students who excel at difficult issues, others argue that it’s essential to create a fairer testing surroundings.
“I felt like I used to be struck by lightning solely 5 moths earlier than Suneung,” an 18-year-old woman at Hangaram Excessive Faculty in Seoul instructed SCMP.
“Now, only one mistake in Suneung may push you down from the highest degree to the third degree, and alter all the course of your life, as there can be quite a lot of college students who will obtain nearly excellent scores,” a personal math tutor instructed the outlet.
Activists advocating for training reform stress the necessity for broader modifications. They argue that the nation’s extremely stratified training system, which fuels extreme competitors, should be corrected to really tackle the problem of personal tutoring dependency.
Though the federal government’s deliberate reforms might not be ample to ease the competitors, activists urge the authorities to give attention to equalising instructional alternatives fairly than implementing superficial modifications like eradicating killer questions.
A joint report by the training ministry and authorities statistics bureau revealed that almost 80 per cent of scholars depend on personal training, similar to cram colleges. This heavy reliance has contributed to South Korea having the best value of elevating a toddler on this planet, as reported final yr.