Lib­er­als prom­ise free meals, uni­forms

Seoul, Gyeonggi su­per­in­ten­dents to re­de­fine ed­u­ca­tion

The Korea Times - - NATIONAL - By Kim Hyun-bin hyun­bin@ko­re­

Cho Hee-yeon, the re-elected Seoul Su­per­in­ten­dent of Ed­u­ca­tion, an­nounced spe­cific plans to im­ple­ment key poli­cies dur­ing a press con­fer­ence at Seoul Met­ro­pol­i­tan Of­fice of Ed­u­ca­tion, Thurs­day.

“Us­ing the past four years of ad­min­is­tra­tive ex­pe­ri­ence, I will in­tro­duce more dar­ing and in­no­va­tive poli­cies so that all stu­dents, par­ents, and teachers feel in­no­va­tive ed­u­ca­tion be­com­ing a re­al­ity first­hand,” Cho said.

The in­cum­bent had a land­slide vic­tory rak­ing in 46.6 per­cent over his two op­po­nents, mod­er­ate Cho Young-dal and con­ser­va­tive Park Sun-young.

Park was sec­ond with 36.2 per­cent of the vote, while Cho Young-dal gained 17.3 per­cent dur­ing lo­cal elec­tions Wed­nes­day. Cho vowed to ex­pand free meal plans to pri­vate el­e­men­tary and high schools in the cap­i­tal.

Un­der his new plan, high school fresh­men will start re­ceiv­ing free meals start­ing next year and he plans to add in an ad­di­tional grade each year.

By 2022, Cho aims to pro­vide free meals to all high schools and pri­vate el­e­men­tary school stu­dents in the cap­i­tal.

To en­force the plan, a bud­get of 77.5 bil­lion won ($70 mil­lion) will be needed next year, 166 bil­lion in 2020, 252 bil­lion in 2021, 272.6 bil­lion won in 2022.

Cho plans to raise half the bud­get from the Seoul ed­u­ca­tion of­fice and the other half from the Seoul city govern­ment and au­ton­o­mous dis­tricts within the cap­i­tal. He reaf­firmed one of his key pledges to abol­ish au­ton­o­mous pri­vate and for­eign language high schools and trans­form them into public schools.

“Next year there is an eval­u­a­tion of pri­vate and for­eign high schools, which is held ev­ery five years. If the schools don’t meet the stan­dard we will change them into a public school,” said Cho. “We will closely co­op­er­ate with the ed­u­ca­tion min­istry to make a strictly fair eval­u­a­tion.”

Cho has been try­ing to elim­i­nate the in­sti­tu­tions since he was elected for his first term in 2014.

He vowed to im­ple­ment a lot­tery sys­tem for pri­vate high school ad­mis­sions and pro­vide sup­port for schools that are go­ing through the tran­si­tion from pri­vate to public.

Cho em­pha­sized that all pri­vate and for­eign high schools need to be switched to public schools to re­duce high school rank­ings.

How­ever, to change the schools the ed­u­ca­tion en­force­ment or­di­nance needs to be re­moved, which can only be over­turned by the cen­tral govern­ment and the Na­tional As­sem­bly.

Luck­ily, the move is in line with the Moon Jae-in ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ef­forts to abol­ish the in­sti­tu­tions, leav­ing a greater pos­si­bil­ity the govern­ment might re­move the or­di­nance.

The su­per­in­ten­dent plans to in­crease the num­ber of in­no­va­tive schools and plans to give more author­ity to dis­trict of­fices and in­sti­tu­tions.

“More author­ity will be passed down from the ed­u­ca­tion min­istry to the Seoul ed­u­ca­tion of­fice, to dis­trict ed­u­ca­tion of­fice and to schools,” he said. “I am hope­ful a self reg­u­la­tion era will open for teachers, stu­dents and par­ents.”

Cho was born in 1956 in Jeong-eup in North Je­olla Prov­ince and ob­tained his mas­ter’s and doc­tor­ate de­grees from Yon­sei Univer­sity. He helped es­tab­lish Sungkonghoe Univer­sity and worked as a so­cial science pro­fes­sor for sev­eral years.

Ed­u­ca­tion in Gyeonggi

Lee Jae-jung, in­cum­bent su­per­in­ten­dent of Gyeonggi Of­fice of Ed­u­ca­tion, has been re-elected for his sec­ond term. He ran against five op­po­nents in the lo­cal elec­tion, but over­whelm­ingly came out ahead in the polls, gar­ner­ing 40.8 per­cent of the votes.

“I have equal love for all my sup­port­ers, all the peo­ple who op­posed my poli­cies and es­pe­cially, the chil­dren in our re­gion. I will move for­ward re­spect­ing diverse opin­ions,” Lee said. “I will let all par­ents and stu­dents feel the ben­e­fits of in­no­va­tive ed­u­ca­tion first hand.”

In his first term as the Gyeonggi su­per­in­ten­dent, Lee fo­cused on in­creas­ing in­no­va­tive schools, em­brac­ing the Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in ad­min­is­tra­tion’s key ed­u­ca­tion pol­icy for all schools in the prov­ince.

One of his key pledges in­cludes re­duc­ing the num­ber of stu­dents per class to 20 and hir­ing more teachers in the prov­ince.

“El­e­men­tary teachers have dif­fi­cul­ties teach­ing first grade stu­dents as the stu­dents who had free­dom at home have a dif­fi­cult time adapt­ing to the school en­vi­ron­ment,” said Lee. “The re­duc­tion of stu­dents per class is to help the teachers and stu­dents to bet­ter adapt to the en­vi­ron­ment and help fo­cus on ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion.” Cur­rently the OECD av­er­age is 21.1 stu- dents per class, and Korea’s av­er­age stands is 22.4. How­ever, the prov­ince has one of the high­est in the na­tion with 25 stu­dents per class. “I will ne­go­ti­ate with the ed­u­ca­tion min­istry to hire 2,000 ad­di­tional teachers so we can en­force this start­ing next year,” he said.

Lee plans to ex­pand free ed­u­ca­tion ser­vices. Apart from free meals pro­vided to all the schools in the prov­ince, he plans to pro­vide free text­books and school uni­forms. How­ever, critics say this would only in­crease debt. He has been con­sid­ered a pop­u­lar lib­eral can­di­date due to his prior ex­pe­ri­ence as the uni­fi­ca­tion min­is­ter for the for­mer Pres­i­dent Roh Moo-hyun ad­min­is­tra­tion.

As min­is­ter, Lee worked to­ward in­ter-Korean rec­on­cil­i­a­tion by re­sum­ing the long-stalled min­is­te­rial level talks and seek­ing to re­con­nect in­ter-Korean rail­ways.

His key cre­den­tials in­clude re­vi­tal­iz­ing the Gae­seong in­dus­trial com­plex and Mount Geum­gang tourism.

He said he will aim to boost ed­u­ca­tion ex­changes with North Korea and hold joint school projects.

Lee fur­ther­more pledged to es­tab­lish a model school that con­sists of both North and South Korean stu­dents and take South Korean stu­dents on field trips to the North.

Lee ac­quired his doc­tor­ate in the­ol­ogy at Trin­ity Col­lege, Univer­sity of Toronto, and was the pres­i­dent of Sungkonghoe Univer­sity, a Chris­tian school in Seoul.

Yon­hap Yon­hap

dent, pays trib­ute to fallen he­roes at the Seoul Na­tional Ceme­tery Thurs­day, af­ter be­ing re-elected for his sec­ond term. Lee Jae-jung, left in the front row, the in­cum­bent su­per­in­ten­dent of Gyeonggi-do Of­fice of Ed­u­ca­tion, smiles af­ter win­ning in the...

Cho Hee-yeon, in­cum­bent ed­u­ca­tion su­per­in­ten-

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