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Licenses for two international schools in Seoul revoked

View of Younghoon International Middle School in Seoul. The school is one of the two autonomous middle schools that will be required to transition to regular middle schools starting next year. (Yonhap)
View of Younghoon International Middle School in Seoul. The school is one of the two autonomous middle schools that will be required to transition to regular middle schools starting next year. (Yonhap)
The Ministry of Education on Monday backed the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s decision to revoke special status to two autonomous middle schools.

The ministry announced it has decided to uphold the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education’s proposal to revoke the licenses of Daewon International Middle School and Younghoon International Middle School for stratifying schools, for deepening inequality and promoting private education.

The education office’s evaluation was fair and legal, and the two schools’ educational efforts were deemed not good enough to meet their established purpose of nurturing a global workforce, the ministry said.

International middle schools were established with the purpose of nurturing a global workforce in Korea and to prevent students from studying abroad from an early age. Most classes in the schools are conducted in English.

With the decision, the two institutions will lose their status as international middle schools -- which gives them more leeway in what and how they teach students -- and be converted into regular schools gradually, starting next year.

Currently enrolled students will be allowed to finish their term under the international middle school curriculum, but newly entering students from next year will be obliged to undergo the curriculum of regular middle schools.

There are now only three international middle schools in the country -- Cheongshim International Academy in Gapyeong, Gyeonggi Province, Sunin Gukje Middle School in Jinju, South Gyeongsang Province and Busan International Middle School.

The two other schools, aside from the newly-opened Sunin Gukje Middle School, will face a review by regional education offices for extensions of their licenses this year -- a process that is conducted every five years.

In line with the liberal Moon Jae-in administration’s educational reforms, elite high schools including independent private schools, foreign-language schools and global schools across the country will also be abolished beginning in March 2025.

The two schools announced that they will file administrative lawsuits to challenge the ministry‘s and Seoul education office’s decisions. They believe that their licenses were taken because of the ruling administration‘s politics rather than problems with the schools’ educational programs.

By Ko Jun-tae (ko.juntae@heraldcorp.com)
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