Lee Renews Call to Cut Private Tutoring Costs
By Na Jeong-ju
The administration will introduce a set of measures soon to reduce the household burden on private education and restore confidence in public education, President Lee Myung-bak said Friday.
Lee made the remarks during his visit to an agricultural high school in North Chungcheong Province, where he held discussions with teachers and parents, observed a class and had lunch with students.
The visit is the latest in a series of meetings with ordinary and working-class people through which he aims to ``come closer to people and understand them better,'' his office said.
In recent weeks, he has visited retail shops, a vocational high school and a daycare center, as well as pledged to reflect their opinions in forming state policies.
``One of the shared goals among educational policymakers is to reduce the educational gap between cities and rural areas,'' Lee told the participants. ``The government will increase the number of schools with dormitories in rural areas to ensure students get better and cheaper services.''
Lee reaffirmed his earlier pledge to reform the education sector, saying rising household spending on private education is one of the major challenges he must tackle in the coming months.
Last month, the governing Grand National Party proposed a seven-point action plan to slash private education costs, under which private tutoring institutes will be banned from offering lessons to students after 10 p.m. Schools will be required to activate after-school programs for students, among others.
Lee's meetings with ordinary citizens are in line with the so-called centrist pragmatism aimed at promoting policies for middle-income earners and less-privileged people and embracing ideologically neutral citizens.
Cheong Wa Dae hopes the initiatives will help improve the conservative leader's public image and address a weakening base of support for his major policies, which critics say mainly serve the needs of corporate giants and the rich.
The move came as the governing camp gets ready to take steps to ease public anxiety over the passage of the revision of media bills, pledging to achieve an early passage of bills related to people's livelihoods.
Opposition party lawmakers threatened to give up their seats and join striking workers to protest the passage, claiming ruling party lawmakers violated related rules when they voted on the media bills amid an opposition boycott.
President Lee is expected to undertake a large-scale Cabinet reshuffle next week in an effort to make a breakthrough in the political stalemate.