[EDITORIALS]Future Leaders Must Be TrainedConcerns have been raised inside and outside academia over the easy College Scholastic Ability Test for several years. Those concerns have been proven to be right.
A Seoul National University mathematics test given to 1,444 freshmen in the engineering and natural science departments was failed by 111 students, or 7.7 percent. Their scores of less than 30 percent mean that they cannot take math courses without remedial coursework.
It is known that the university originally set the flunking mark at 40 percent, but had to lower it to 30 because of the unexpected number of failing students.
In particular, 34 students, or 5.4 percent, of 613 persons who got a perfect score in the CSAT math portion flunked the SNU math test, a mind-boggling phenomenon.
In case of the university's English test, 24 percent of 4,265 incoming students received unsatisfactory marks (500 points out of 1,000).
Even at Seoul National University, where the cream of the crop is gathered, some professors say they had trouble conducting classes because of a widening gap among students. SNU introduced its own testing system to limit freshmen's access to certain English and math courses if they were judged not able to keep up in class. But such testing cannot be a fundamental solution.
The falling scholastic ability of college students is a result of many factors, but the primary cause is an easy CSAT. Many students repeatedly go over easy material, forgoing in-depth study. In high school classrooms, teachers focus on how "not to make mistakes in tests" instead of fostering students' thinking and problem-solving abilities.
Many nations are working hard to cultivate their elites to lead an information and knowledge-based society. Each nation resorts to different methods, but all focus on fostering competitive human resources.
South Korea must revamp its education system, which is now underpinned by a philosophy of pegging standards at the a lower level in the spirit of providing every student with the same level of education.
The CSAT must be changed from its focus on rote memory and choosing the right answers from multiple-choice questions to one aiming at consolidating basic scholastic ability and enhancing creativity, diversity and competition.