[EDITORIALS]Do It the Right Way - Openly

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[EDITORIALS]Do It the Right Way - Openly

The ministries of education and health plan to establish an Oriental medicine school at a national university; those plans are stirring controversy. In particular, the Ministry of Health and Welfare has opposed any increase in the enrollment quota for Oriental medicine schools for the last 10 years. It abruptly changed its stance in August and asked the Ministry of Education and Human Resources to consider a new school at a national university and suggested a candidate university. Suspicions of special favor have arisen.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare says it accepted the request for a new school by Oriental medicine doctors because it believes the move would improve the quality of Oriental medicine here. There is no doubt that developing and globalizing Oriental medicine is a nationally important task to be addressed - sooner rather than later. Eleven universities now have Oriental medicine schools, but most are short of funds and do not educate their students properly. Some schools even lack equipment for experiments and the practice of medicine. As a result, many students who dreamed of becoming great Oriental medicine doctors, like Heo Jun in the 17th century, are frustrated. Those schools must be supported.

But policy decisions must be transparent. The Health Ministry said last March. "A glut of Oriental medicine doctors is expected even if the current enrollment quota of 750 students is kept intact." The ministry changed its stance five months later, and even recommended one university, of two that want a new school, after a fact-finding trip to only the school it recommended. That recommendation came right after the Association of Korean Oriental Medicine sent a recommendation letter for the same university to the Education Ministry. Suspicions of special favors for that university followed.

It's simple. Back-room decisions draw suspicion. The government should put the matter up for public discussion and disclose fully the process of selecting universities for new Oriental medicine schools. That is the only way to prevent suspicions of special favors from arising. At the same time, the government should thoroughly examine whether the current enrollment quota for Oriental medicine schools is appropriate.

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