[EDITORIALS]Good start to a clear vision

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[EDITORIALS]Good start to a clear vision

The Vision 2011 Project report presented to the National Economy Advisory Council on Thursday has some good ideas that deserve our consideration. The Council is headed by President Kim Dae-jung. The government and the Korea Development Institute joined 16 public and private research institutes in a nine-month effort to draw up a blueprint for Korea to become a leader in global technology within a decade.

The institute's report is a step forward from similar reports prepared for earlier administrations. While previous papers tended to concentrate on rosy visions for the future, the new report focuses on the immediate tasks that need to be tackled and how to do so. Specific proposals include abolishing the lump-sum payment of retirement benefits, extending the retirement age, moving most central government functions out of the capital region, bringing public utility prices closer to costs and ensuring autonomy in education, both for schools and for students.

Each of the proposals has been discussed extensively. The report is not a completely new blueprint for the future, but instead reads like a comprehensive summary of past discussions. The calls to stop standardized high school education, for example, and to allow college admission in return for monetary donations to schools are both hot topics. So is the proposal to solve the problems of an aging society by raising the retirement age and expanding private pension plans. Agriculture in the age of open markets is another issue that requires more constructive discussions.

The institute's report does not have answers to all our problems, and whether the issues can actually be resolved through government policies is questionable. The government-initiated council for globalization in the previous administration also gave educational reform its highest priority, but nothing concrete has happened since then. This report comes in the final year of the Kim Dae-jung administration, and might meet the same fate. But the issues are significant and urgent - where will this country be in the future? - and regardless of how much time is left in the government's term, work must begin to seek a social consensus on how those issues may be addressed.
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