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[EDITORIALS]Needless Bill for School Reform

Apr 17,2001
The Millennium Democratic Party, at its Supreme Council meeting on Monday, decided to pass three education bills at the coming National Assembly's extraordinary session, including an amendment to the Private School Act, which transfers the right to appoint and dismiss teaching staff from the school board to the principal.

These bills were put on hold two months ago, opposed not only by elements within the MDP but also by the ruling coalition partner, the United Liberal Democrats. With Kim Jong-pil saying, "Radical reform brings misfortune," there are questions as to why the MDP is pushing for the revision as is.

The new revision bill allows a member of a private school board who has been involved in a scandal to return to the board after five years (currently two years) with the approval of two - thirds of the board members. It also elevates the status of the school management committee from an advisory to a deliberation panel. The MDP says that the revision is necessary to prevent corruption involving private schools. The private schools oppose the bill, saying it does not recognize private property rights and has the hidden intention of taking away management rights from private institutions. Corruption must be strictly dealt with. However, the school boards should not be made powerless by condemning them all as corrupt. The core of school management is the control over teaching staffs and the budget. In this sense, the revision bill is infringing on the management rights of the school.

Currently, private schools serve important roles in society, educating up to 22.7 percent of middle school students, 55.7 percent of high-school students, 96 percent of junior college students and 77.2 of university students. The proposed reform would deal a great blow to private schools and the progress of education, using corruption within the schools as an excuse. To ensure sound development of private institutions, the government must give them independence rather than unilateral regulations. This is the only way to increase the schools' competitiveness and encourage diversity in education.



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