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Students can't afford 12-yr education experiment

We are as confused as most parents and students are likely to be over the enrollment system accompanying the new 12-year education program that was designed, in theory, to reduce the pressure facing junior high school graduates seeking to move on to the last three years of secondary learning.

The original idea of the program was to completely get rid of a nationwide exam, with students being assigned to a senior high or vocational school near their home depending on to their in-school performance from seventh to ninth grade, as well as according to their own choices.

But things have never gone as planned since the government hastily implemented the 12-year education program last year with many of the major regulations still remaining on the drawing board.

It was assumed at the time that it would be a compulsory program giving all students an extended free education of 12 years as opposed to the original nine. The assumption was based on the fact it was called the “12-year National Education,” a clear indication that it would be an extension from the original compulsory “9-year National Education” program. And it was quite clear that it was in the government's plan.

But amid constant rows over its implications and feasibility following the program's premature implementation, the Education Ministry eventually announced that the schooling will not be actually be free to all, as students from wealthy families will have to pay tuition in order to maintain “fairness” — economically speaking, rather than educationally speaking.

And it follows that the program is not compulsory. Junior high school graduates can choose to stop schooling — just like any of their predecessors who chose to do so.

The design of the program was doomed to fail because of the government's underestimation of the resistance coming from those top senior high schools that have been adamant in maintaining their “standards.”

Accepting any student from their neighborhood without discrimination meant they would no longer be able to enroll only top students, like they have in the past when the results of government-run entrance exams were the determining factor in enrollments.

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