As in other policy areas, the gap between the metropolitan area and other regions can be seen in the field of internationalization of education as well. In this article, the policy and efforts of the central and local governments in order to reduce the gap in the internationalization of education are compared in Korea and Japan.
In Korea since 1998, English has been taught from the 3rd grade of the elementary education, and about 30% of the courses are taught in English at the major universities. However, there is a widening gap between universities in the Soul Metropolitan area and other regions. The former succeeds in attracting domestic and international students whereas the latter tends to face difficulty in attracting enough students to fill their quota. In 2012, the Ministry of Education, Science & Technology of Korea announced a new program of “Special Zones for the Promotion of Internationalization of Education (SZPIE).” In SZPIE, the local governments and local offices of education can implement original international education at the elementary and secondary education levels, not bound by the course guidelines stipulated by the government. The Ministry also encourages collaboration between the elementary, secondary, vocational, and higher education in order to strengthen the “global power” of regions in SZPIE. Three cities were selected as SZPIE: Daegu, Inchon, and Yeosu. In Daegu, the emphasis of the program is in the internationalization of elementary and secondary education and about 16% of the total budget will be used to hire native speakers of English, Chinese and Japanese as assistant language teachers.
In Japan, special zone programs have been directed mainly toward the development of industries, not for the education. On the other hand, efforts to support international students have been made in various regions through the collaboration of universities, local governments, industries and NPOs.
The internationalization of education will entail higher cost in the provinces than the metropolitan areas. In this regard, international students in the local universities can be utilized to promote international education for the children and students in the region. By providing them the training and remuneration, the quality of education will be enhanced and the cost of supporting the international students will be reduced.