Liberals promise free meals, uniforms
Seoul, Gyeonggi superintendents to redefine education
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.
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-