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South Koreans back plan to freeze opening of English schools

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 20:11:00 01/28/2011

Filed Under: Language, Education, Migration

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines?The summer capital?s South Korean community is supporting a proposed ordinance that seeks to freeze the opening of new English language schools to allow the government a year-long audit of the performance of 115 accredited schools and to provide new regulations that would elevate their teaching standards.

The city council committee on education conducted a public hearing on Thursday to draw feedback about the proposed measure, which takes into account the proliferation of language schools that operate without licenses, schools with bad teaching credentials, or establishments that serve as legal cover for different enterprises, said Councilor Peter Fianza, a former city administrator.

Councilor Philian Weygan-Allan said the moratorium seeks to cover schools that are about to start operations and those that have opened but have not secured permits.

Husky Ryu, president of the Korean Schools Association in Northern Luzon, said the city has enough schools to serve transient Korean students, who go to Baguio for a crash course in English that lasts from three months to a year.

There are 10,000 South Koreans living in Baguio, according to the Bureau of Immigration.

But Ryu, who runs the HELP Learning Institute here, said the moratorium should allow the government to streamline its system for accrediting language teaching facilities.

?I have [operated a school] for 15 years and [based on my] experience, [complying with government requirements] is quite hard,? he said during the hearing.

Ryu said many South Korean investors want to put up language schools but are hobbled by requirements they barely understand. They are also made to wait for more than a year of processing, he said.

In the meantime, he said, the investors continue to pay rent until the wait leaves them bankrupt and unable to proceed with their intended enterprise.

A Filipino administrator of another language school told the council that her employers have been perplexed by a bureaucracy that requires them to secure a city government permit, accreditation from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda), another set of permits for employing Filipinos, and documentation to pay taxes.

Cenon Querubin, Tesda Cordillera director, said their requirements for registering a language school have been a burden to the Koreans, ?but don?t blame us because this is what the law [prescribes to ensure quality].?

He said Tesda met with Ryu and other school operators to help unregistered facilities legalize their operations.

Querubin said many Korean businessmen fall prey to local consultants. A member of the Korean association admitted that some of their consultants failed to process their documents faster as promised.

The immigration office in Baguio said it documented 102 English language schools operating in the city in 2009. Thirteen more schools opened this year.

Most of the Korean schools are joint ventures of Korean financiers and Filipinos. Vincent Cabreza and Eugenice Bautista, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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