06.26 Wed


Hagwon fail to post tuition fees

Aug 19,2016
Hagwon, or private cram schools, in Seoul are required to display their tuition fees at their entrances, according to a regulation enforced in July, but numerous hagwons have been ignoring the regulation.

A JoongAng Ilbo reporter visited 125 hagwon in Daechi-dong, one of the areas in southern Seoul with the most hagwon, and found 40 percent without their fees posted outside. Many that did post notices failed to fulfill the required information. Some even hid the notices behind a plant, or made them as small as one-fourth the size of an A4-sized piece of paper.

According to the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education, hagwon must list information regarding subjects, student capacity, hours and additional fees for textbooks and mock tests. They may be fined if even one category is missing, yet not one hagwon properly listed the information about textbook and mock test fees.

No one, however, seems to be paying careful attention to the proper enforcement of the regulation.

“The regulation was enacted only weeks ago and we can’t afford to take care of it right now,” said an official from the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education. “We’re not planning to discipline hagwon at this point, either.”

This is highly contrary to the Ministry of Education’s expectation.

“We will enforce the regulation nationwide by the end of the year,” the Ministry of Education announced on Aug. 10. “With hagwon listing their tuition fees, we expect to ease the burden of private education expenses.”

But parents in Seoul see no difference with or without the regulation.

“The notices are often difficult to spot,” said Lee, the mother of a middle school student, “not to mention it’s not easy to drop by every single hagwon. I haven’t seen any positive outcome from the system.”

Parents have felt the need to access tuition fee information at home, calling for online announcements or leaflets. In response to such demands, the Ministry of Education developed a mobile application with information on hagwon, in 2013.

But the application proved useless due to its slow updates and frequent crashes. The JoongAng Ilbo reporter tried searching 20 existing hagwonson the mobile application from Aug. 12 to Aug. 15, only to see the words “No such hagwon exists in the area.”

“Educational authorities must reflect on parents’ opinions and come up with practical measures,” said Koo Bon-chang, a policy director of the educational group “World Without Worries about Private Education.”

BY JEON MIN-HEE [shon.jihye@joongang.co.kr]
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