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‘Seoul private schools run illegal English lessons’

Some private elementary schools in Seoul are breaking relevant laws by giving uncertified English lessons to young students, a local civic group said Monday.

World Without Worries About Private Education, a group campaigning against excessive private education, investigated the curriculum of 39 privately-run elementary schools in the capital and found that most of them regularly hold English classes for first- and second-graders.

As per the law, schools are prohibited from teaching English to first- and second-graders as part of their curriculum. A revised version of the law, which took effect last September, states that after-school classes are an exception.

But the group pointed out that after-school English classes at these elementary schools ― which ranged from one to three hours a day ― have become mandatory for all students. For example, school buses are operated only after the “after-school” English classes finish.

The classes were conducted virtually as part of the regular curriculum, complete with evaluations and report cards, the group said.

“Conducting English classes like regular classes that are part of the curriculum, holding tests for students and grading them are all blatant violation of the law,” the group said, calling for a special inspection by the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education to ensure that the schools abide by the laws.

SMOE declined to comment on the matter, adding they have not considered any steps to be taken against schools violating the regulations.

In 2013, SMOE found that 30 private elementary schools violated regulations related to curriculum.

Banning English lessons for younger students is part of the Park Geun-hye administration’s effort to curb “advanced learning,” which refers to students prematurely studying material for older students. 

By Yoon Min-sik
Korea Herald Youtube