ⓕ font-size

  • -2
  • -1
  • 0
  • +1
  • +2

Incumbent liberal superintendents dominate election

Cho Hee-yeon
By Kim Hyun-bin

Incumbent liberal education superintendents dominated elections in key areas around the nation.

Cho Hee-yeon, the incumbent superintendent of the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education (SMOE), has been re-elected for his second term.

Cho, the only liberal candidate in the race, took roughly half the votes as he ran against moderate Cho Young-dal and conservative Park Sun-young.

The superintendent has been successful in appealing to the public with a set of pledges including controversial ones such as abolishing private and foreign language high schools.

Cho has been trying to eliminate the institutions since he was elected for his first term in 2014.

After abolishing the institutions, he plans to implement a lottery system for private high school admissions and provide support for schools that are transitioning from private to public.

The superintendent also vowed to place a foreign English teacher in every elementary school.

Many are concerned if he will resume construction of three special education schools within his second term.

Residents of Jungnang-gu, eastern Seoul, have protested the planned construction of a special education school in their neighborhood.

He pledged during the election campaign to finish construction of three special education schools in his second term.

He also plans to allow grade school students to use public cultural centers including the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts and Seoul Arts Center free of charge.

The candidate will establish a public petition system making it mandatory for SMOE to answer any questions that accumulate over 100,000 supporters.

Similar to Cho, Lee Jae-jung, incumbent superintendent of Gyeonggi Province Office of Education, won his election easily for a second term.

Lee ran against five opponents but came out well ahead of the others with close to 40 percent of the votes. He was a popular liberal candidate, owing to his former service as unification minister for former President Roh Moo-hyun.

One of Lee's key pledges is to reduce to 20 the number of students per class by hiring more teachers in the province.

Currently the OECD average is 21.1 students per class and Korea averages 22.4, but the province has one of the highest averages in the nation with 25 students per class.

"I will negotiate with the education ministry to hire 2,000 additional teachers so the policy can be enforced starting next year," he said.

The liberal superintendent aims to increase innovative schools, embracing one of the Moon Jae-in administration's key education policies.

Kim Seung-hwan, superintendent of education for North Jeolla Province, beat out four others to win his second term in office.

Kim plans to focus on innovative education to better fit the Fourth Industrial Revolution, reducing the education gap and the cost burden on parents as well as strengthening unification education and expanding education autonomy.