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Park calls for end to corruption at elite schools

President Park Geun-hye said Tuesday that English-dominant private middle schools should be stripped of their status as specialized institutions if they are found to be involved in admission fraud and other corruption.

The remark came after Seoul’s Younghoon International Middle School was found to have accepted unqualified students in exchange for bribes. After a two-month probe, prosecutors indicted nine officials last week, including the chairman of the school’s board.

Unlike ordinary middle schools, such specialized schools are allowed to select their students. They are considered to be elite schools that offer better education than public schools and teach most subjects in English.

Entrance to one of these schools, however, is out of reach for most ordinary families due to their high tuition costs and admission standards.

Younghoon’s case worsened public perception that rich families resort even to irregular means to get their children into good schools.

Some critics have called for scrapping such schools altogether.

“This case could leave deep scars on children ... and make them distrust education,” Park said during a Cabinet meeting. “From now on, international middle schools should be run strictly according to their intended purposes ... We need a system where we can strip international schools of their status if they deviate their purposes of establishment.”

Park also said that the government should think about why people are trying to get their children into these specialized schools even going so far as to commit corruption, stressing that ordinary public schools should be upgraded to offer the same level of education as special schools do. (Yonhap News)
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