The Jeju Global Education City (JGEC) project, which has helped fuel the ‘studying in Jeju’ boom as an alternative to studying abroad, will be extended and dramatically altered, including adjustment of the number of schools to have campuses in the city.
The Korean government recently held the 21st Jeju Special Self-Governing Province Support Committee meeting to discuss significant changes to the JGEC project. During the meeting, the government decided to operate the project until 2021 – six years beyond the originally planned date of 2015, while unifying the management of international schools and adjusting the number of international schools to be located in the city. Based upon the name and operating entity of the school, the government has changed the number of international schools to 7 from the current 12, which included all elementary, middle and high school divisions. Among the government’s new ideas, what’s notable is a community center that will offer an English immersion environment.
The center will provide a variety of welfare services as well as cultural and fitness facilities in one place. Therefore, it will help JGEC residents enjoy not only educational benefits but also comfort and convenience in daily life.
The new plan demonstrates the nation’s commitment to turning JGEC into an educational hub
for Northeast Asia – beyond Korea. Lee Sung-ho, head of the Edu-City Department at Jeju Free International City Development Center (JDC), which has been implementing the project, said, “We are strongly committed to attracting, especially, students from Asia, such as China, Japan and Hong Kong, to JGEC. We also have been marketing JGEC and its international schools to foreigners who are interested in investing in Jeju.” Indeed, JGEC has conducted a wide range of activities, including holding school admission information sessions in China, to attract foreign students to Jeju. The city is reviewing various methods to attract Chinese students such as organizing classes tailored Chinese students and offering English as a Second Language (ESL) classes before each semester begins.
Korea saw a boom in sending young children abroad to study from the late 1990s to the mid-2000s. This led to a new word – ‘wild goose fathers’ – home-alone fathers who work in Korea while their spouses and children live overseas for the children’s education. The number of Korean students studying abroad had been steadily on the rise, peaking at 29,511 in 2006. But, the adverse effects of
sending young children overseas began to emerge due to economic slowdowns, failure to adjust to an alien environment and family separations. The government planned JGEC in 2007 to absorb demand for overseas study.
The nation’s ears of efforts to attract top foreign schools to Jeju have paid off. UK-based North London Collegiate School Jeju became the first international school established in JGEC in 2011, followed by the Korea International School Jeju Campus and Branksome Hall Asia. Currently, elementary, middle and high schools under the three school brands are operating. In 2015, St. Johnsbury Academy Jeju, a local campus of the renowned U.S.-based school, is scheduled to open in JGEC.
The international schools in JGEC follow global standards in terms of language, educators and curriculum, while providing the same educational benefits to their Jeju students as to those on their main campuses. The presence of the world-renowned, elite schools in Jeju teaching differently from traditional Korean schools has helped JGEC become an alternative to studying abroad just
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