|Cho Hee-Yeon, superintendent of Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education (SMOE), speaks during a press conference at the SMOE building in Seoul, Tuesday. Yonhap|
SMOE Superintendent Cho Hee-yeon marks sixth year in office
By Bahk Eun-ji
Cho Hee-Yeon, superintendent of Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education (SMOE), said, Tuesday, he will strengthen education opportunities for the socially vulnerable by tackling deep-rooted elitism.
To this end, he also said he will promote safety by actively utilizing remote classes, which have become a necessity during the coronavirus pandemic.
"The pandemic again gave us the chance to prove that Korea is a leading IT country where students don't have to stop learning, even when the virus situation got worse, due to the availability of online classes. To achieve more safety in learning for children, the Seoul education office pledges to build a stronger infrastructure for online education," Cho said during a press briefing at the SMOE building to mark his sixth year in office.
In order to narrow the technology divide prompted by school closures which deepened the existing gap between the haves and have-nots, the SMOE has provided digital devices such as tablet PCs and laptops for students in low-income households. Cho said the move was the education office's next step toward digital education.
He stressed that the quarantine measures as well as remote education used here can be a model for other countries to follow.
Seoul's education office is planning to maintain education online on a regular basis even after the pandemic ends. It announced a reorganization plan to create seven new teams, including remote education teams, in the second half of the year.
"We are trying to have a remote class system that can respond at any time in the event of another crisis after COVID-19," Cho said.
As a former sociology professor at SungKongHoe University in Seoul, his liberal education policies have been focusing on equal opportunities in education and abolishing deep-rooted elitism, which he refers to as "revolution in education."
In line with his strategy for equal opportunities for every student, Cho said he believes the SMOE's recent decision to downgrade two elite middle schools to regular schools was a step forward to achieving his goal.
Cho said the two international middle schools ― Daewon International Middle School and Younghoon International Middle School ― have merely become a means to enter top universities instead of living up to their purpose of providing a diverse education.
The decision on the two schools is not final yet, as it is subject to final approval from the Ministry of Education, which will notify the schools of its decision within 50 days of the SMOE's announcement of the revocation of their elite status, June 10.
"The process to reassign the two schools was carried out strictly in accordance with law and principles. If the revocation process will be conducted rigorously by the education ministry as well, and their licenses are canceled, the hierarchy in the school system will be greatly eased, at least in Seoul," he said.