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‘Corrupt schools’ to be disclosed online

Schools whose staff members were found to be involved in corruption cases will be named on the Internet from March as part of efforts to stem school irregularities.

The measure is designed to get individual schoolmasters to take more responsibility for directing their teachers and other staff, The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education said on Monday.

Anyone can have access to the regular audit results posted on the office’s website.

The move came as suspicions have mounted over veiled management of school affairs such as private contracts for field trips and school meals, as well as the handling of donations.

According to a recent audit, only 11.1 percent of 171 public and private high schools in Seoul agreed to disclose field trip contracts to the educational office. Only 19.6 percent of these schools would reveal their donation records.

“Records of expenditure should be transparent and open to public.

“We plan to hold a comprehensive audit into 10 private schools that have refused to disclose any information despite our repeated requests,” Song Byung-choon, an official was quoted as saying to the Yonhap news agency.

Those who have committed sexual harassment or been involved in bribery will have their workplaces disclosed online. Local educational authorities have been reluctant to identify culprits due to tight privacy laws, but have decided to reveal schools’ names instead.

“Disclosure of the individual corrupt staff members will be unavailable but the revelation of the schools will add some pressure to schoolmasters and fellow teachers,” Song said.

The administration has already set up a dedicated section on its website for the mission. All audit reports in the jurisdiction will be posted.

“The school headmasters won’t be happy but we are making a brave step out. We hope all schools would stay alert and behave,” Song added.

The decision is the latest measure by the office of education, which has suffered from a slew of scandals involving its teachers.

Last year, the authorities offered a bounty to those who reported school irregularities.

A person revealing bribery involving the construction of an elementary school’s English-only classroom was rewarded with 3 million won, while another informant telling of a schoolmaster’s misappropriation of children’s newspaper fees received 2.5 million won. Another received 2 million won for reporting a school teacher who had been given 300,000 won worth of department-store vouchers.

The administration has also established a School Innovation Department to monitor and eradicate campus irregularities.

“If the schools cannot gain public trust, they will lose respect from the students, which is the most important factor in education,” said Kwak No-hyun, head of the office, at the National Assembly’s annual audit of his organization last year.
By Bae Ji-sook (baejisook@heraldcorp.com)
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