[EDITORIALS]A welcome education pushDeputy Prime Minister Jin Nyum strongly criticized the current high school education system in a speech Thursday that focused on school standardization after high school entrance examinations were abolished in the 1970s. "The problems in education now are largely due to our standardization drive, which did not help to encourage specialization of schools in regions," he said. "We will brief the president on a plan to change the system."
His comparison of today's education system to that of the Japanese during the colonial period of the early 20th century was flawed, but we agree with most of what Mr. Jin had to say about the problems of standardized education. We have repeatedly pointed out the problems of the current system. The most serious is the distrust of public education, which has led to an explosion in demand for expensive outside classes. The most blatant example is the explosive rise in apartment prices in southern Seoul because most of the good extracurricular education facilities are located there.
The policy that shaped the current high school education system of course served other purposes, but times are different and changes are needed to correct the problems. It is sad that the current administration's education policy has been swimming against the tide of reality. Schools in five regions near Seoul that had to date escaped the standardization push and set their own curriculums were told to adopt uniform standards this year.
Science and foreign language high schools were established to train young people for this age of globalization, but their operations have been seriously distorted. A plan to allow independent private schools was rejected by the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education last year. The results of our failed education policy are seen clearly in our industry, where the shortage of qualified workers is getting serious.
It is time for the government to abandon its illusions of an identical education for all and focus on producing competitive and qualified graduates. Mr. Jin's comments must not be taken lightly; they should be the basis for discussion and new policies to reform education.