Disclosure of Hagwon Tuition Insufficient
An Oct. 29 Korean Times article, ``Hagwon Face Sterner Supervision,'' provided a brief introduction to a new measure to reduce private education costs.
I do not agree with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology that the disclosure of hagwon tuition fees on the Internet will curb the high expense of private education. Some limitations should be taken into consideration before the ministry sets strict regulations on these tuition fees.
Once hagwon make their tuition charges public on the Web sites, it will be possible to prevent them from illegally imposing high tuition fees on parents. This policy will not, however, have any effect on private tutoring, which also puts a lot of parents under financial pressure.
Due to this exclusion, the disclosure of fees will not be fully effective in cutting down all private education expenditure. Some parents who mistakenly believe that ``the more expensive, the more qualified'' will also be willing to send their children to the most expensive cram school no matter how much it charges them.
Even after overcharging is banned next June, high tuition costs will remain almost the same. To make matters worse, the government's regulations on hagwon will stimulate a black market where owners secretly tutor their students at higher prices.
The revision of the ``hagwon law" should take a long-term view, rather than work as a temporary measure, in order to achieve its primary goal.
The authorities announced that the hagwon will be subject to license suspension and other penalties, but these will not keep some owners from reopening another cram school under their family members' names.
The revision is not a fundamental solution to high private education costs because the ministry's policies of boosting public education such opening more independent schools and more standardized tests ironically pushes students to rely more on private education.
Closer supervision of cram schools will not be successful unless the authorities think about overall education policies and problems in advance.
For the past few years, temporary education policies have worsened over-dependence on cram schools and increased hagwon tuition fees.
There exist obvious loopholes in the tuition disclosure, which means that its implementation will end up failing to reduce private education costs. Therefore, the ministry should consider the consequences or effectiveness of the policy in depth.