South Korea's education ministry has unveiled plans to revoke the special status of autonomous private high schools, foreign language high schools and international high schools from 2025.
Speaking at the Seoul government complex on Thursday, Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae announced that such schools, after 20 years with special status, will be reclassified as normal high schools.
"Autonomous private high schools, foreign language high schools and international high schools, which account for 4 percent of all the country's high schools, will become regular high schools from March 2025."
This means the schools will be allowed to keep their names and specialized curriculum, but they will no longer be able to select their students.
Such schools have been seen as a more competitive option for getting into the top universities in Seoul.
"These schools have been selecting outstanding students, charging them expensive tuition fees, putting a financial burden on their parents and creating a hierarchy among schools."
The ministry plans to make the necessary legal changes by the end of the year.
At the same time, the government announced plans to spend some 1.9 billion U.S. dollars in the next 5 years to improve the country's normal high schools.
The announcements prompted immediate condemnation from the affected schools and parents, who claimed the plan will damage the nation's education system.
"The government's plan to revoke the status of special private high schools is a regressive move that takes the education system back to the past in the name of fairness."
Some parents also held up signs that said "the education system is dead," arguing that these measures deprive people of their rights in a democratic country.
"Despite the education ministry’s plans, there are still obstacles ahead, including strong opposition and a pile of controversial adjustments.
And the plans also need the backing of the next administration which will take over in 2022."
Kim Mok-yeon, Arirang News.